January 25th, 2009
So New Year’s Eve is here- the Chinese edition, Spring Festival, that is. My tenth in China and fifth in Yanqing.
We came up to the village yesterday, and so avoided all the rush. But Bafangda seemed to be suspecting the same as us and had the Yanqing buses on a holiday timetable- meaning we were on a bus and on the road superquick. In fact, I think the bus they were just finishing loading as we arrived and the bus we got on five minutes later pretty much cleared out the “crowd”- well, it helped that ours was a big 50+ seater taken off the slow route along the side of the highway to relieve the expected crush on the fast buses.
Then we said to hell with it and just hired a car from Nancaiyuan.
The wind had stopped down in southern Chaoyang when we left, but was still blowing at Deshengmen, and it’s still going up here this morning. That caused us some trouble as we hung the couplets and 福 characters at about 9:30- couplets, being so long, were a particular problem, being blown off the walls before the glue could stick, or, in one case the sun had yet to reach, the glue freezing before the couplet could stick and the wind playing merry havoc. Then the last- Ba and I had an end each as we were carrying it to the gate post so that we could get it stuck fast both top and bottom before that norwester started playing its silly games, but the wind saw what we were up to and literally tore it out of my hand before we’d reached the gate, leaving me with a tiny slip of red paper. Nevermind, we recovered it and got it stuck.
Then, of course, I was on fuse-lighting duty, as always. I don’t know how I got this duty, but every Spring Festival I’m the one who lights the fuses. Anyways, Ma lit a cigarette (cigarettes are about the best thing for lighting fireworks- they’re small (unlike the corn stalk out of the kitchen stove I used one year) and they’re not bothered by the wind, unlike lighters and matches) and handed it to me, then grabbed three rolls of crackers and three mortars, and we chased the demons away.
At eight this morning it was only two degrees celsius inside. And eight am is a good time to get an accurate reading from the thermometer absurdly hung in the window, as the sun has yet to peak over the courtyard wall- at midday it’ll tell you crazy things like 35 degrees because it’s getting direct sunlight. I took the camera and wandered outside for a quick look-see. The early morning sun was painting the mountains behind the village subtly red, the Jundushan were clearly visible all the way to the Badaling area, beautiful. And cold. Within a couple of minutes I had to run back inside and find some warmth to restore the circulation to my hands.
Uh, yeah, our camera has always had trouble with dates. The pictures we took in Dalian 3 years ago are all marked 2011. Ignore the date, that was taken this morning. Actually, I was going to tweak the photos a bit and remove things like wrong dates, but the light I have in this room isn’t much good for fiddling with photos.
So I’m going to spend the afternoon probably just sitting right here, adjusting the curtain so that the sunlight keeps me warm without affecting my ability to see what’s on this screen, relaxing. I am, however, looking forward to this evening, which will be fun.