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First Thanksgiving... in China
Article ID: 13039
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Posted: November 22nd. 2009
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We had frost on the ground here in Fuyang. It's the subtropics but it gets mighty chilly here in the mountains. The wind was brisk and the air was crisp. The ground was crunchy. Most of the trees still have leaves--they are tropical trees and keep their citrus smelling, waxy, green leaves all year round. However, on the mountains you can see some bare spots where more ordinary trees--ash and oak and some that look like aspens--have lost their leaves.
Not much of the blazing red and gold of a New England fall scene, though there are some Ginkgos that have lately burst out bright yellow against all the green trees. There is also the occasional red Japanese maple that has added some color to the landscape here.
The willows--and there are lots of them--have dropped some of their wispy foliage, but otherwise they are still green too. And flowers continue to bloom. All over Fuyang, wild and cultivated, there is a green bush with waxy leaves that has white flowers that look like gardenias, but have no scent. The white blooms have all just about fallen off now, but it was such a sight to see in November! Also there are marigolds and even some bushes with flowers that look like small English roses still blooming.
Some ex-pats put together a Thanksgiving dinner, but my partner and I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional American way. We do however take the time to give thanks for all we have--especially in our new home in China.
There is so much to be grateful for--our friends, our families back in the States, our mutual love for the Tao and the Goddess and for all Her creatures. Our health is good, our lives are full and our love continues to grow and we are here in China. We have survived our first 90 days in this wild and wonderful country. What more could we want or need?
As the new moon fell on Thanksgiving, we focused our intentions on what we look forward to this next moon cycle--we are working toward getting a better apartment in Hangzhou and my getting a post at the University there. I was promised a teaching post at Zhejiang University last term, but an upset had our handlers moving me to Fuyang and my partner stayed to teach in Hangzhou.
Fuyang is rural, surrounded by mountains and riven by three rivers. It was at one time the capital of the Middle-Kingdom. During the Three Kingdom’s era the emperor had chosen Fuyang as the capital. There is still some architecture that dates back to these times as well as a silk factory and a paper-making factory.
On clear days, when the smog from Hangzhou [population 4 million and counting] doesn’t interfere, I can stand on the hill at the school where I teach and see all the mountain ranges. The one’s directly behind the school are called Dragon, Tiger Mountain.
I am a green witch, so I’ve been itching to get up there, but so far I can’t seem to find a pathway. It seems no one goes into the mountains anymore. I’ll keep trying though. They call to me.
Other things we are grateful for: we are starting Chinese language lessons this weekend and calligraphy lessons as well so we are working toward improving our ability to live and be happy here. Also our new Tai Chi uniforms have been finished. A friend in Hangzhou took us to a designer and she custom made them for us. The cost of two uniforms is the same as the cost of one uniform in New York City. And these of course are made to order. I am amazed at the quality and a half the cost.
I also signed up for Skype and was able to speak with my Mom for the first time since arriving in China back in August. So I surprised her with a call Thursday morning. She was thrilled and so was I. We made plans for a call near Christmas so I can talk with my niece and nephew as well. Skype is free from computer to computer and we can see each other--which really helps to cut through the distance between Rhode Island and Fuyang.
Some of the Chinese I work with knew a little about Thanksgiving. One woman, a Chinese-English teacher at the school, whose English name is Violet, asked me if it was Thanksgiving and wished me a wonderful day. I was surprised, really. And I wasn’t sure what to say. Just like the coming Christmas holiday, I am a witch. I celebrate the solstice. But rather than go into all of that, I was struck by her sympathetic smile and voice. Something about her manner told me she understood what it was like to be so far away from home and family on a holiday. I was touched.
Without realizing it [or maybe she did!] she helped me get in touch with my homesickness. There has been such much here that is new and exciting and so much to learn and enjoy, that I hadn’t really had time to feel my other, younger self, the little one that was crying out for the old and the familiar as the season changed. My circle of women in New York City. My friends and family. Chinatown and our practice there. I took the time and a walk in the surrounding woods to reconnect and refresh.
The Chinese are a wonderful, wise and sometimes crazy and infuriating people. Just like people are all over the world. And I’d like to pass on her message: To all those, who are separated from their loved ones during the Holiday Season, may I wish you Happy Holidays filled with love and generosity and a host of little angels to come into your lives to say sweet and comforting things to your hearts.
Blessed be to all...
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