There is break in the cold snap, the sky has cleared, and the sun beams are radiating warmth into the villages.
Slowly the spring blossoms are again popping open, revealing their beauty as the buds turn into delicate flowers. One can almost see it happen as you stare memorised into the thousands of cherry red and silk white blossoms on a tree. There is a distinct scented smell in the air as one passes the blooms. Along the edges of the harsh dry, turned soil there are patches of bright green shoots of the Spring onions that have been planted in the villages. The hard baked earth is also showing cracks as fresh shoots muscle their way out of the ground in search of the spring sunshine.
In the villages there are the little perfect spots, out of the wind and where the sun manages to just catch it bringing warmth from the clutches of the winter chill. This is the place where the village elders gather. It’s in these little alcoves that you will always find a few old chairs neatly placed in a semi- circle and a low table. This is where the card games, board games and reminiscing occur.
Many a village that we run through we will bump into the groups of old cronies just chilling. All dressed in their dark blue Mao styled suits. Whenever we run past these gatherings there is a cheer, simultaneously the hands are raised to shoulder height in an open hand salute. You can’t help but stop and engage with these characters from yesteryear.
I just wish that we could engage more and hear their stories, but stopping, sitting with them and exchanging sign language and the odd word in Chinese we manage to get the feel of the village. Then there is the local village worker canteen that we sometimes slip into for a bowl of broth and noodles; the vibe and energy here is crazy, and then there is the bottle of 56% fire water that is passed around. Mark my words you can’t say no.
Take a swig and the rest you have no control of!!