On the way home from Waka, I was looking intently out the side window since looking out the front window was too scary. We passed over a bridge with a huge lake and a pagoda floating in the center. I wanted to find out what that was!
The next morning, I got up and got to the dining hall in time for breakfast (its only served from 7 – 8am), then decided I wanted to go walk around town a little bit before it got too hot to move around. I don’t even think it was a full block from campus, I saw a sign across the street for the Zheng-feng park. I looked down the street and saw the bridge, so I crossed over and entered. The street was gutted and full of potholes, with small shops in various states of repair (or not), but there was a gate ahead with roses growing to the left of it. The gate was tall and wide, but the entrance was off to the side.
There are sheer drops off both sides of the walkway almost immediately, with a classic humped bridge directly ahead. You won’t believe me when I tell you this, but I’m not kidding- I saw the bridge and heard “It’s a Small World” playing. Found out later on my walk that there’s a children’s carnival area in the park, but you have to laugh.
On one side, is the lake with the pagoda I’d seen the day before from the cab window as I tried not to pee pants in fear of my life.
On the other, is the “lotus village”, just full of the biggest lily pads you’ve ever seen.
I decided to go down the steps to the left instead of head on the flat path that went forward. I found out tonight that the flat path loops back around to where I’d ended up. I do believe I’ll take that way when I go tomorrow. All the stairs are absolutely killing me.
As I descended these bad boys, there was a first, then a second older couple climbing the stairs. One of the men- he had to be in his 80s- was climbing the stairs lifting his legs to hip height as he ascended. He had this impish look to him, and reminded me of J’s Uncle Peter. The lotus fields were off to the left, but I went right and began to walk along the water. Not too far in to the path, a tree threw a branch down in front of me. I accepted the invitation and saw a ledge to sit on between it and another tree. The cicadas were working themselves into a pitch, but I didn’t mind as they covered up the sound of the children’s carnival on the other side of the lotus field. I enjoyed my screaming cathedral for quite a spell as the trees calibrated me and helped me ground myself.
As I was enjoying the feeling of the trees and soaking in the smells of the rich, musty forest floor, the green of the leaves, the wafting perfume of the flowers nearby, I wondered why there had to be so many damn insects in places where its so lush. I miss the trees so much- but I don’t miss the bugs. Why can’t I have both? Trees and no bugs. My new tree friend clued me in. We had a little talk about the bugs, and she helped me understand how the bugs are necessary to maintain the growth. They spread the pollen and the seeds, as well as breaking up the fallen leaves, and other decay and debris that is the inevitable result of growth and seasons. We don’t have that many bugs in Arizona because there’s just not as much for them to do. Here, they have lots of work, so there are lots of bugs.
I don’t know if I’ll like bugs any more than I do as a result of this little talk, but I’ll certainly respect them more.
I did a few yoga poses to wrap up my sanctuary time, then headed along the path. The path wound around water, with feasts for the eyes at every turn, bend, nook and cranny. I saw my first lotus bloom at the foot of a statue of a woman with a lotus in her hair. I asked one of the students about her tonight when we went on a walk through the garden and began to get the story, but she was distracted and I didn’t get to hear the end. I’ll find out more and do a post on her. The Henan region is considered the birthplace of the Chinese people and culture, and Xinzheng is sometimes referred to as an “open-air museum”. A woman’s statue in the middle of such a park must have quite a story behind it.
The park winds on seemingly forever. I’m sure I’ll be able to take a walk in it every day while I’m here and discover new parts of it every time.
There are several structures located throughout, and I only saw a couple. This one was full of pots and stands when I got to the other side of it. I didn’t go all the way around it- perhaps there’s more going on.
The park is full of families and children. I had several little ones run up to me and say “HELLO!” then run away giggling. I would answer “Hello and Nihao!” Which make them that much happier. Cute enough to make your head explode, I tell you. If I hadn’t already been intoxicated with the trees and the smells and seeing real lotus flowers for the first time, the uberadorbs of the lil’uns would certainly have gotten me there just on their own.
I began to make my way back towards the entrance to the lotus field. I really wanted to see this up close.
There were people fishing all over the place. Men by themselves, families, boys. Most didn’t fish with a pole- just had a line going in to the water. When I first entered the park, there was a man and child leaving. The child was carrying a net and the man had a heavy plastic bag in one hand and a canvas bag in the other.
I’d just passed two young hipster-looking dudes to snap this shot of the humped bridge. They had their line right down amongst the lily pads.
As I came across the pond, there was this building. I thought it was some kind of temple or something.
There were a couple of people inside, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I’d hung back a little bit and just took a few shots.
When we walked back through the same spot tonight, I saw that it is a roller rink. One of our group had never been roller skating before, so expect some tales of our grown-ups on wheels while being gawked at…
By 10 it started getting really hot. The humidity is New Orleans level at least, and this desert rat doesn’t deal with it well at all. There’s no way to get back into campus without climbing and descending mountains of stairs, and by the time I got back to Peter Hall I was as red as a tomato. Students I hadn’t met struck up conversations with me about how hard the weather is. Others warned me to get into the air conditioning. I wasn’t about to argue with them.