All the trees in Lanzhou are bare now.
We arrived here in Winter. Ice and snow still lie in shadowy corners that the sun does not reach.
The Spring Festival holiday is already underway.
Red Lanterns have been strung up everywhere. Other decorations have been put up all over town. Christmas decorations still have not been taken down. They are blending in well. We are experiencing a bumper amount of bright and colourful decorations all over the place.
The Chinese New Year celebrations will burst upon us tomorrow.
We are looking forward to that.
2018 is the year of the dog.
L and I have our two yellow dogs, Tao and Bao but we miss our dog, T-spoon.
She died shortly before we left South Africa. She was very old, and it was probably all for the best, but we think of her often. Her photo comes up on our flat screen, and when we see it we pause to gaze at her, and we mention her briefly.
T-spoon played an important role in our lives. She kept us fit because she needed, and loved her walks three times a day. She was L’s therapist – as he stroked her body, squashed between him and the seat of the armchair, I could see the stress of the day leaving him.
I have always been aware that Dog and God have more in common than the same letters…
There are dogs all over Lanzhou.
A lot are feral and I worry about them in this cold weather. I have seen food left out for them and have also seen them eating the snow left on the ground around the trees. I look away when I see one or two of them trying to cross the roads. So far they have all made it to the other side.
I have seen a lot of other dogs as well, pampered poodles mostly, out walking with their owners, complete with jackets and little booties.
In celebration of The Year of the Dog L and I fancied and bought the little red paisley dog, with gold stitching that we saw for sale in Vanguard the other day, amongst all the other New Year decorations.
Red is a good colour in China. Lucky.
For now, there are big pots filled with a huge amount of artificial flowers – but people have told us that when the holiday is over there will be buds on the trees. Spring will have come.
I have been thinking about that a lot lately. About how silently the bare trees stand now, while all that Spring colour and energy is gathering inside them, ready to burst forth. Waiting.
Waiting has been a theme of our lives for many months now. We have been living and moving from one Waiting Room to the next.
But I am aware, that within all the waiting there was also so much life.
A hidden life of learning and stretching and moving and knowing. Even within our own bodies, during all this time, there has been so much growth.
Seasons come and go, of course, and my face in the mirror shows me that my springtime and summer have passed for good.
I think the risk is that during the second half of life we can miss the signs. We might feel that we will now remain in a kind of winter – and it is there that the story will end.
But that, I am realising, certainly does not have to be the truth.
L and I had felt the deep stirrings of new life within us for quite a while before we acted on it.
Before we came to China.
Before we embarked on what we call our second journey.
It happened just when we thought we might put our feet up, and stay slumbering in the silent snow of our lives, most certainly with a dog on our laps.
Make no mistake – that thought does hold a certain appeal. Especially on those tired days…
But the sap within us is powerful and rising. It is unstoppable. It makes our pulses race. It pushes us on. It fills us with excitement. And hope. And life.
This journey at this time in our life isn’t about status or achievement or in order to add anything to our CV.
It is will help us financially, yes, but deep within us, we know that we are answering a much deeper call.
A call to adventure.
A call to flower.
A call to learn and live a new thing.