Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Snowy Sunday

The snow started yesterday and continued all night, by morning it had formed a white blanket all over the city. Some shots from this morning before everyone was awake, the snow was higher than the promised 5 cm. Walking through the winter wonderland, the smell of wood burning fireplaces and breakfast cooking, ham and eggs I imagined.
The air smelled clean and fresh, I was glad for some quiet time outdoors, only a few brave souls were walking about. Below the rhododendron leaves drooped under the weight, some flower buds on surrounding bushes were covered with white crystals.
The storm drain resembled leaf veins.
Tiny red berries peeked out from the white, the only natural crimson I saw on my walk.
Small footprints in the snow, I think these belonged to a cat.
A bird house high on the tree covered with a thick layer of snow, I hope my feathered friends have a warm place to stay.
By mid morning the snowfall was heavier, it's still snowing now, I wonder when it will stop.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Crocus

In the company of crocus all weekend long, a few shots shared here and some more later in the week I promise! The flowers were budding just last week but with the help of the rain and a little bit of sun, most are in full bloom now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Longsheng Journal Day 18 Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces

Night temperatures are below zero all week but no need to fret, let's escape to China! Last week we ventured down the hill after a tasty lunch, our guide Linda instructed us to take a different route for some different views. Down the stone tiled pathway, a make shift souvenir stall tended to by a Yao lady dressed in traditional costume, just like the dancers at the performance. I admired the authentic looking silver jewellery, good quality with fine details but no customers in sight. Along the way we noticed only a few shops were minded by the Yao, Linda said they only come to town during peak tourist seasons, perhaps this was why their stores seemed temporary.Across the way, bamboo poles to display a large number of hand woven blankets, throws, tablecloths, all meticulously hand stitched in various designs and lovely colors. So many to choose from, but there's no room at home!
Walking down the path, we followed the small group of local tourists that was part of our group. On the left a rooster pecked at the grains drying in the sun, no one seemed to mind.
We spotted some Yao ladies with baskets of souvenirs, some attempted to make a sale, others called out to tourists offering a private hair combing performance. Linda advised us to say "bu yao" when we don't want something, we both said it and the selling stopped.
A small shaded area, the air cool and fresh under the bamboo trees. A peak through the opening at some buildings, white sheets were hung out to try, could these be hotels?
A glance at some colorful umbrellas and blue tents, a bright accent in the shade.
Back in the sun, baskets filled with dried branches, the attached seed pods looked like soy beans, was there a soy plantation nearby?
A different turn took us to these working horses who were resting under the banana trees. Though much smaller in size than their Canadian cousins, they were ruggedly built, each ate out of a bucket containing grain.
We continued on, Linda said there should be some rice fields ahead. Alas! The legendary Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, which we came across while researching for things to do in Guilin.
We read that the rice terraces were built by local ethnic minorities about 600 years ago, they start at the foot of Longji mountain and circled around layer by layer until they reached the peak.
A closer look at the nearby summits, I was thankful for this shot as the camera had great difficulty focusing through the mist. Each level was carved out of the mountain, the labor must be unbearable in the intense heat.
We began to notice the group of grey roofs at another hill, more hotels? Judging by the number of white sheets hanging out the windows, they could very well be!
Some buildings were in a smaller group by themselves, a lot of windows in these ones which meant there were a lot of rooms. If we had known there would be accommodations we would have considered staying overnight.
Another grouping off to the side, these appeared to be smaller in size than the ones above. It would be so nice to wake up to the sunrise on the mountain top.
The graduating hills in the distance, a layer of harvested terrace in the foreground. It must be harvest season, most of the fields looked dry and empty.
Some of the terraces were covered by a luscious green growth, could they be growing vegetables too?
On closer look there was also patches of black on some of the layers, the air reeked of smoke, a common farming practice in China was to burn garbage for fertilizer.
More black piles amongst bundles of grain. In the midst of cultivated land a few roofed structures, much smaller in scale than the ones we saw, no other buildings nearby, we did not think these were hotels. Our guide Linda said the Yao lived on the mountains in wooden houses, there would be 3 levels, bottom for animals, middle of kitchen and top for bedrooms. Could the ones below be Yao dwellings?
One last shot of the distant mountain tops before walking on. The rice terraces were sure a delightful part of our tour, join us next week for another episode of the China adventure as we continue our way down the hill!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

By the Library with Flowering Branches

I walked to the library to return a DVD only to find it was closed for inventory. The sun felt so nice and warm I decided to stick around... little did I know the branches of a nearby tree had flowered. The tiny pink blooms with an unknown name were quite pretty, it was not altogether a wasted trip at all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yarn Bombing in the Hood

I've read about yarn bombing and seen it when we were passing through Santa Rosa, but this was the first time I've spotted a colorful knit in the hood! Wrapped around a metal pole its position changes depending on the time of day, sometimes it's fully stretched out, other times scrunched up at the bottom. A few blocks away it's pink and turquoise mate a tight bundle around a branch, there is no change in its location, a permanent scarf all season long.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snowy Morning

Earlier today it snowed, then it stopped and in the afternoon it snowed again. Traffic went about as usual, the snow melted as soon as it hit the ground, it sure was pretty though.

Work in Progress - Second Book!

I'm currently working on my second book, there was a lull in creativity after working on Her Beef Stew but last week I was able to come up with a couple of sketches I'm quite happy with. There are more revisions I'm sure but I'm getting excited about the theme. Now that I've posted about this I better get to work!