清明

April 4th, 2009

So it’s Qingming and we’re back in the village for the long weekend. It’s warm, the air is incredibly clear and the sun this afternoon was bringing back distant, faded memories of a life on some islands 11,000 kilometres south south east of here.

The sun is setting and Ba has just brought the sheep back. I stepped outside to take a leak and the sunset was beautiful- not in any spectacular way, but in a calm, understated early spring kind of way, so I thought I should share it with you:

Oh, yes, I really do need to persuade our camera that it’s 2009 already. Still, it has a habit of changing the date randomly. Hence our photos of our trip to Dalian being dated 2011.

And here’s looking eastward from outside the courtyard gate:

And yes, that tractor towing some kind of hoeing implement (sorry, but I don’t know shit about farming) is the most mechanisation I have yet seen “in the flesh” in rural China. Wide expanses of fields reaped by multiple combine harvesters or sprayed by crop dusters are scenes I have only seen on TV here.

Early spring? Definitely. We’re pretty close to Beijing, where leaves are budding and the first blossoms blooming, and we saw some blossoms from the bus as we came down the mountain into the basin. Then, because of the sheer number of people trying to get home for the holiday, we hired a car from Nancaiyuan, and as we sped along the north shore of the reservoir, we saw plenty of people either preparing the fields, planting or irrigating. But so far as I’ve seen, the fields up here at the base of the mountains are all still in the preparation stage.

Now, of course, the air outside reeks of woodsmoke as evening meals are prepared the old-fashioned way, the sun has gone and the last, stubborn rays of light are just about beaten back by the night. The temperature is dropping as quickly as it always does up here and I’m hanging out for dinner. It’s been a while since the weather was cold enough to justify buying baijiu down in Beijing, but I’m thinking a shot over dinner with Ba and the Daye who has been hired to work the fields while Ba recovers from having his finger chopped off might be a good idea.

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