Off to China

Feeling nervous. Like the old woman that I am. China seems like a place of teaming hoards, a mysterious land where I might get lost in some hidden cranny and never be heard of again. Of course, I know this is silly. My daughter tells me she was apprehensive at first, but it’s just like anywhere else.

I know a little about the modern history of China from the Teaching Company course Jerry and I watched. It is a history filled with suffering and violence, and with the terrible mistakes of Mao. Earlier there were stubbornly self serving domestic regimes, mired in traditional hierarchies of the past, then there was callous and vicious exploitation by the west, and finally savage invasion from Japan. Mao at first looked like a liberator to the exhausted masses, but he ultimately revealed himself to be a megalomaniac whose ideas were out of touch with the real world.

China today is the place where everything we use comes from. A place of earthquakes, of polluted air and water, the origin of the flu, the land of the one baby rule, the United States’ main creditor. It has a great wall and wondrous art, a strange tonal language, writing without an alphabet and books that are read backwards. All this seems very risky.

My pretty granddaughter, Katy, has been here this week and is going to China with me to see her mother.

Katy and Fluffy

She’s a little nervous too, but she’s one of my most competent grandchildren. She has spent her time here organizing her life, filling out papers to defer her student loans, filling out papers for her Peace Corps assignment in the Dominican Republic where she will be working with disadvantaged teenagers, paying her bills, and trying to learn a little about China.

But she plays too. She enjoys a glass of wine or two with Jerry and me in the afternoons. She went kayaking with Felix, an elderly island friend. She is now buddies with my friend Ria, who is younger than me, but as I frequently remind her, not young enough to be my daughter. Ria dropped her off at a party of young adults last night and she stayed until the wee hours. So you see, Katy mixes easily with people of all ages.

I have been trying to instruct Jerry on how to arrange for renters in our vacation apartment — the other side of our duplex. We are booked for a large part of July, but still not much in June so he may have to deal with inquiries. And I am urging him not to neglect watering my flowers and vegetables; and to remember to put food out for the birds.

Lots of flowers need water

Greedy birds

Leaves on the trees are now lush and dark green. I live in a sea of green. My yard is full of bird song. Starlings are raising families. The trees and feeders are bright with intensely blue stellars jays, orange and black grossbeaks and yellow and pink finches. Jerry cuts the grass and it needs to be cut again a half a day later.

I am hoping some little green tomatoes will have developed on the tomato plants by the time I get home. They look vibrantly healthy now.

Tomatoes at home

Tonight we will have dinner out in Bellingham, then stay in the condo. Tomorrow we get up early and cross the border to Canada. The flight is out of Vancouver at 11:15. Katy and I will step from the world of the safe and familiar to a murky unknown. Wish us luck.

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13 Responses to Off to China

  1. Rain says:

    Good luck with your trip but it should be fine. In a lot of ways China is probably safer to visit than many countries with its control and from what I have seen on videos of it, some of it is awesomely beautiful

  2. Tabor says:

    I am sure you will face challenges, have adventures and make new friends. You will eat strange and delicious food and people will bump into you and not say they are sorry. You personal space will be invaded, but so will you mind with new thoughts and new images. Looking forward to all the lovely photos and what a blessing to have such a wonderful companion.

  3. Marja-Leena says:

    Bon Voyage, Good Luck and lots of fun! You have a lovely travel companion and a dear one to stay with, so it sounds like all should be fine. Looking forward to the reports and photos!

  4. Jan says:

    I’m torn between envying your adventure and thinking not in a million years…. I’m looking forward to your always insightful impressions.

    When I first started blogging I had readers from China, then someone got pissy and a lot of us were blocked for a while by the forces that control. I’m getting through again and I have some readers from China but all from university settings. Curious…

  5. wisewebwoman says:

    Bon voyage, Anne. What a lovely and competent companion you have! I am sure your refreshing insight into the new and the strange will bring your readers much joy.

  6. Dale Favier says:

    🙂 You’ll have a grand time, I bet. Bon voyage!

  7. Brighid says:

    Annie, safe journey, so glad your beautiful granddaughter is going with you. What wonders will you behold. I’ll be waiting for your posts.

  8. Annie says:

    Safe and wonderful journey! I look forward to hearing your take on China. And I love your garden photos, how great that you got the flicker, jay and something else in a single shot.

  9. Pauline says:

    Can’t wait to hear your account when you return, balanced against your current trepidation… It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to step from the familiar into the unfamiliar but you seem such an adventurous sort and the lovely Katy will be there for you to talk with. Have fun!

  10. Mage B says:

    We are with you in spirit, and you seem to have a stalward companion in the now. Have a grand time, and do lots of sketches. Hugs.

  11. Natalie says:

    Anne, so sorry to be late in reading this and wishing you and Katy bon voyage. I’m sure you’ll come back with wondrous stories about China. It’s a spectacularly interesting and no doubt fabulously beautiful country, with lots of scary aspects, as you mentioned. I don’t know whether you’ll get the chance (or be allowed!) to talk to anyone about the human rights situation there – for instance the recent arrest/disappearance of the famous artist and activist Ai Wei Wei – but anyway, have a wonderful time.

  12. Ernestine says:

    Safe travel wishes
    Looking forward to your sharing
    What a great travel companion…

  13. Betty says:

    I feel you are both in good hands. Enjoy – have fun – pretend you are young and be glad you are old. Look forward to your words and photos.
    take care,

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