It's becoming a weekend tradition for me. Jogging down by the river is something that I can actually look forward to for a few reasons.
--I get to leave the house, toddler, and husband and be alone for a while.
--I can use this alone time to converse with the Father
--I can attempt to burn calories while my asthma kicks in
--I can enjoy the beautiful weather that the end of summer brings
But most of all, I can just marvel at creation. Let's be honest, there isn't a lot of what one might call 'nature' around Shenyang. It's mostly a concrete jungle with patches of vegetation here and there. But within the city, the river parks are a little oasis. There's water, albeit polluted. There's trees that aren't being supported by branches and fed by IV because they've been unsuccessfully transplanted. There's butterflies, flowers, and song birds. There must be fish, since there are literally hundreds of people fishing along the banks at any given moment.
Tonight, I was running towards my half-way mark. The place where I had previously agreed with myself would be the point where I could turn around and run back home. When I first got to the river park, I was coming down the stairs and could see the willows up ahead. They were basking in beautiful light, and I instantly thought of my camera. I wished that I had brought it along (as impractical as that would be) so that I could try to capture the beauty. It was around dinner time, so there were not many people about. Actually, it was the emptiest I've ever seen the river park in such fine weather. People have to eat, though.
Usually, people are the most interesting part of going to the river park. They're always dressed interestingly, up to some never-before-seen activity, and I come away in awe of creation. They are part of creation too, after all.
Since there were hardly any people around, I tried to lift my thoughts upwards. I ran over the side walk and started towards my designated turn-around-point. The side walk went on before me in gentle curves as it followed the course of the river. I was immediately struck by the beauty that I saw.
You ought to know that beauty is hard to find in this city. I mean beauty in the romantic, idyllic, pastoral sense of the word. There's no sweeping sunsets here because of the haze and smog. And even if there were, you wouldn't be able to see them because of all the buildings in the way. But tonight, by the river, the sun was pouring down on the water and it was stunning. I think I gasped in surprise.
People fishing on the river banks didn't look like mere pedestrians looking for a chance of recreation. They were transformed into impressionistic silhouettes against the setting sun. They shimmered when they moved. The sky was fairly clear, and the sun's rays were streaming down fairly uninterrupted. The water was literally glowing like gold. It was one of those moments when I wished I had the ability to freeze time so that I could remember how the moment looked and what it felt like to be there. I wished I could share it with Adam and Willow. I wished I had my camera so that I could share it with you.
I wished I was bionic.
If I were a bionic mom, I would wish to be part Nikon. Wouldn't it be amazing to be part Nikon? I wouldn't have to lug around my camera or worry about charging it. I wouldn't have to worry about learning all the settings and how I should use them correctly (because I can't fathom the fine points of photography). I could just point my hands, like Iron Man or something, at my target and save the image on my removable SD card.
Just as I was thinking this, a man ran past me going the opposite direction. He kind of laughed at my red face (I get very red) and yelled out, "Jia you!" Which basically means 'add oil'. It's a form of encouragement. I thought, "man, I wonder what kind of oil I have to add to make me run better? What kind of 'motivation' is my oil?" I looked behind me at some people, because I'm a snoop like that, and then I gasped again.
The sight behind me was just as beautiful as what I had been running towards. Behind me, the water was not a pool of liquid gold that was radiating warmth. It was blue.
Do you understand that?
It was beautifully, deeply, undeniably blue.
The river isn't always blue. And it isn't always that beautifully blue. Sometimes it's muddy, or just a murky lake-water kind of blue. Not this photoshop-perfect-blue. The sky was relatively clear over the river. There were a few clouds that were perfectly reflected in the water. Large concentric circles were moving towards the shore, and I realized that the ripples were being caused by a man treading water in the middle of the river. Another lady was wading knee-deep, looking for something to eat, no doubt. A dad was taking a picture of his daughter jumping rope on one of the piers. I thought, "man, this lighting is so great for pictures!"
Talk about being at the right place at the right time, without the right people and without the right equipment. Bionic Nikon Woman!
Now I really wished I had a camera! It seemed like everyone around me had cameras. It shouldn't surprise me how many Chinese people own telephoto lenses or SLR cameras. Most of the people that were out had nice looking cameras and they were snapping pictures of the river, the sun, the wild flowers---everything looked beautiful in the sunlight. You could almost look past all the construction, the building cranes, the dirt and grime, and the concrete jungle. Even the bridge that I had finally reached didn't look like weathered cement. The concrete pillars were transformed into amber columns that seemed alive with light. I couldn't cope with how lovely it was, and how I wouldn't be able to fully explain it to others. I wish I could show you. But you probably have even more beautiful sights to see right where you are. I hope you can enjoy some nature today and give glory to the one who conceived of it in the first place.
Usually, when I go out to the river--whatever the reason--there is something interesting to see. Something crazy. Something hilarious. Something confusing.
But tonight. It was just beautiful.