Monday, 11 January 2010

It's Monday and I would prefer to be in .....

I would definitely prefer to be somewhere cooler and am entranced by the snow scenes in Europe, America and China over the last week. It reminds me just how much I miss seasons. We have Winters here that would be the envy of most of  Europe as a Summer. Yet I don't want Summer all year round and a view from my window that varies little from month to month. I really miss seasons!

So where would I prefer to be today. Rural Shanxi in North China.

I spent many years living in China and this is my favourite area of the whole country. There was a time when it was the most familiar place to me in all the world. It is poor and the people are hardy. Winters were usually dry but very cold with temperatures dropping to -20C. Even when it snows the snow is dry and I remember my amazement at not being able to form a snowball. Snow was just white dust in my hands. In winter the countryside is grey/brown with no colour until Chinese New Year when doors and windows are pasted with cutouts of red characters welcoming spring or bright poster drawings of peaches and chubby babies.

In the years 1982-1989, I travelled in this area often and extensively.The local long distance buses were irregular and scarce so we often just walked for miles and miles knowing we were never far from a village.

This photo was taken late afternoon in the area of Hengshan in the Winter of 1983.  We had visited a monastery and as there were no buses had to walk back down the hill to the local town where we were spending the night. I seem to recall that for the last part we managed to get a lift on a tractor but perhaps that was another time. The houses in the village all faced south, both to take advantage of the sunlight and to escape the full force of wind and dust storms which came down from Mongolia in the Spring. But this was Winter and the temperature is dropping rapidly as the sun sets. Smoke rises from chimneys. It is beautiful. Yes I would love to go back both in time and place.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Fascinating! I love reading about places I've never been. Your description was very interesting.