Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring flowers, kites and heavenly trees

090313 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn (Click on image to see in larger window!)

Friday afternoon the light was lovely and we spent a little time in the park that runs along Shenxianshu Nanlu, opposite Qinghua Fang. The magnolias inside Qinghua Fang were perfection this day and in the park peach blossoms of many different colors and hues were a welcome sight beside the row of weeping willows that line the canal skirting the park.

The name of this important thoroughfare that runs through a section of Chengdu has special significance. Shenxianshu means something like "Tree of the Heavenly Beings" (nanlu just means "South Road") and such a tree was thought to exist in the world of superstition and old tradition. The tree was a kind of "money tree" (qianshu) that have been found in Chinese graves for a few thousand years, but it had less to do with riches than acting as a pathfinder or bearer of the spirit or soul back to the Land of the Dead. I don't know why this particular road has this quite profound name, perhaps there was once a temple or graveyard located here?

The park itself is a favorite with kite flyers so we bought a simple one for 8 yuan and gave it a go. Most of the time we spent cursing each other and yelling instructions. We only succeeded in getting the kite in the air as long as we were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The pros were of course the older gentlemen with fancy reels of robust string and decades of know-how. We did however succeed with one thing - not getting our kite stuck in a big, old tree that dominates the main square. This tree is a veritable graveyard for dead kites and perhaps in its own way a shenxianshu, carrying our happy memories of good times spent here back to the heavens above where our kites should be but never succeeded in reaching.

©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

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