November 1st, 2009
All Saints’ Day. I wake up a bit after 7, properly awake, no way to get back to sleep, so I get up. My wife was still sleeping, so I left her in peace, wandered in to the lounge room, open the curtains, and
It’s snowing! I knew it had suddenly got cold yesterday, but yesterday was dry, clear blue sky, and I didn’t realised it had suddenly gotten that cold. And snow on November 1, isn’t that a little early?
So I fire up the computer and start brewing tea. I sign into Kaixin001 and see Guoan won the championship, Chen Lin is dead, and a video of a Chinese guy (Sun somebody) who plays football in England making a most impressive save, sprinting back and getting a foot to the ball just in time to prevent the goal.
lzh woke up and asked if it was raining. No, I say. Don’t lie, she says. Go look for yourself. Snow! But Ma and Ba haven’t sold the apples yet! Will snow freeze the apples? I don’t know. So she phones home and her dad says it’s only sleeting up in Yanqing. That I do not understand. Yanqing is colder than Beijing. If it’s snowing here, how could it only be sleeting up there?
And then I learn a new word. lzh is still much perturbed by the snow, and asks maybe if it’s some kind of 冤情. What? 冤情. Yeah, but what’s that? Eventually I get an answer, and she tells me a legend of some guy who died in June, and so it snowed, apparently the snow being Heaven’s tears. Fine, but what does 冤情 (yuānqíng) mean? Nciku says it’s “Facts of an injustice”, while CNKI says simply “grievance”. The dead tree dictionary next to me agrees with Nciku.
And what’s this legend? I try searching Baidu Baike. No luck. Baidu Guoxue. Still none. Well, I’d only just started looking when lzh says she’ll find me the story, and here it is on Baidu Zhidao. And that rankles. My students know from long and repeated experience that if they ever suggest Baidu Zhidao as a possible means of researching their essay topics, I will immediately respond 百度什么都不知道 (Baidu knows nothing)! Oh well, at least I can read the story, now, assuming of course that the answer Baidu flags as best is accurate. Anyway, it’s the story of a young woman who was unjustly executed, and as a result, it snowed in June. Something like that.
And I learn another new word: 昭雪 – to exonerate or rehabilitate. Interesting.
Meanwhile, the snow changes from the usual Beijing-style tiny little flakes to gigantic, fluffy snow, and the paths, which still had too much heat for the snow to settle on them, seem to have cooled enough to allow the snow to start piling up there, too. The usual low rumble of buses passing along Xidawang Lu is only a faint whisper.