June 23rd, 2009

It’s been a good couple of days for skyscapes: Clear blue skies, strong clouds. Here are a couple I snapped on my cellphone:

That one was taken yesterday afternoon, from the 6th floor of the IT building, looking northwest. Yeah, it’s not the best, but it was taken on my phone, and a little fiddling with Picasa left me thinking the original is as good as it’ll get. Still, not too bad for a phone.

Next up:

Didn’t bother trying to touch that one up, the original seemed to capture the drama I saw as I walked out the door this morning.

Gratuitous Master and Margarita thot: That is what I imagine the Yershalaim sky looking like about halfway between Pilate’s public announcement of Yeshua’s death sentence and Yeshua’s crucifixion.

It seems we’re in for another season of the dramatic skies Beijing can put on in the summer time. I’ve experienced a few in the past- they can be impressive, they can be tempestuous, they can be calming, they can be scary. Cobalt skies, still air and baking heat can turn to winds scouring the ground for any loose dust available to pelting rain driven by gales that would make Wellington blush to a ruffled calm in half an hour. Or maybe hordes of heavy clouds swagger across the sky like members of a bikie gang enjoying the fear they inspire.

That last summer we spent in Tongzhou District is stuck in my memory. Somehow the relatively wide, open expanse of Tongzhou and its position at the southern end of the flight path into Beijing airport combined to magnify the drama of a Beijing summer sky in those seasons its the mood. From my various vantage points in the vicinities of Liyuan and Guoyuan I would see often three or four planes beginning their approach to Beijing airport, big planes working their way between clouds that made the planes seem like mere playthings.

A sidenote: You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the tread pattern on the tires of an A340 from directly underneath. Yeah, sometimes those planes fly so low over Tongzhou you find yourself counting the rivets on their undersides and making notes of tread patterns on tires, then, after it passes out of your sight, waiting for the bang.

Of course, Beijing also turns on those summers marked by long, constant, oppressive humidity, the kind of weather that leaves you praying for a good thunderstorm, and perhaps a personal lightning strike, followed by a nice, bone-dry nor’wester, and yet all you get is the occasional, mysteriously windless storm and ever increasingly oppressive humidity.

But in a good summer the Beijing sky provides endless entertainment, entertainment of the awe-inspiring variety. This season is shaping up to be a good summer.

3 Responses to “skyscapes”

  1. John Says:

    Ah yes, the planes over Tongzhou as they’d fly in to the airport. I do remember some being a little low. I was also on one flight which turned just at the right moment for me to get an excellent aerial view of the school.

    We’ve even had some sky in Chengdu this week, although it’s back to the usual grey blanket today.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Sky in Chengdu? That’s a rare occurrence. I hope you celebrated appropriately.

  3. Tom Herbert Says:

    I’m afraid the sky in Chengdu was short-lived, I can see about 400 metres from my office building at the moment…