11.00 am 090201 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
For those of you out their in different parts of the world, the world that has blue skies, here is evidence of the greyness of a Chengdu winter. Chengdu is located inside a huge basin and is surrounded by mountains. To the west and north we have the enormous Tibetan mountains, to the south an extension of the Yunnan Plateau and to the east a smaller mountain range sliced through by the mighty Yangtse River, all of which contribute to making this an area of mist and humidity. Also abundance because of the richness of the soil and plentiful moisture. I joke that Chengdu weather is perfect for taking lovely, soft portraits as you seldom have to worry about "panda eyes" - dark shadows under the eyes when taking a portrait outside in sunshine. The ancient saying that Sichuan dogs bark hysterically when the sun makes an appearance is a much heard cliché but truly no exaggeration.
The greyness begins to set in in early autumn and lasts until the beginning of March when the sun again makes an effort to penetrate through the gloom. Thankfully both the temperature and the weather improve and the spring and summer are wonderful opportunities to spend your time lounging about in a tea house or outdoor restaurant.
On rare days the basin is swept free of moisture and pollution particles and visibility extends all the way to the edge of the Tibetan mountains. It's as if a huge curtain has lifted and you realize that we live right on the edge of one of the most spectacular mountainous areas in the world.
Visual range today is very low, an entire city of over 10 million people hidden underneath a slate-grey, cottony softness; its water molecules heavy with the unctuous smell of cooking oil, chilis and Sichuan pepper. The only sounds are the wet adhesiveness of car tires barely sticking to the pavement as they drive by to their destination. Car horns and police sirens are heard every now and then, but looking down from high above they are nowhere to be seen.