Quiet Green Spaces – China

When I think back to China, I always think of my desks. Even if I was busy from drowsy harried pre-dawn to the hours after desk, or if I didn’t slump down until the hours before midnight, the desk is still where I did all my work, where I collected my sense of place.
My first residence in Beijing was in the hotel for foreigners on the campus of Peking University. I shared a standard room with a plump, mignon liberal Mormon from Pennsylvania with a love of all things cute and incessant enjoyable chatter. From my desk by the window (where I tried to block out her chatter) I smelled the dust at the edges of summer, the lilies growing in the famed ponds, earthy green; green swaying trees over the courtyard almost blocking out village traffic to the nearby market with its fresh-faced peasants and broken-down stalls (it’s now been succumbed by a superhhighway, METRO store and VW dealership); heard the clatter of professors still biking to class and exchanging gossip on the university paths, following the same tracks as decades past; caught the spicy sweet wiff of Korean food being grilled in the cafeteria for the crowds of identical hipster-like Korean exchange students with their dyed hair, chunky black glasses, pinstriped shirts and zippy mopeds. Sometimes we’d hear the long-off wail of students practicing their English at the edge of WeiMing Hu (Nameless Lake) mixing in with the dusty dew of morning, “ANG-KHUL, ANNNKLE“, and a pigeon cooing. Continue reading