Spring in Beijing

May Newsletter’s Final Thought, May 2011

This has always been my favourite season, and when you are mostly living somewhere for which there is hardly a season called spring, I appreciate it all the more. People have said that spring has been longer this year than it was last year and that I should appreciate the fact that it’s hanging around.

I do. I am.

Spring in Beijing includes small fluffy pollen that floats in the air like lazy season-confused snowflakes. For the time that I was in China this winter, it didn’t snow at all in Beijing and I really missed it. I think that’s another reason why this silent pollen parade makes me smile.

The earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan has passed and lots of uproar about radiation and nuclear safety was then sharply replaced with the anticipation of a royal wedding that came and went with furious fanfare and sadly no television drama like the bride tripping on her train or the groom dropping the ring or someone contesting their union. And then, close on the bride’s heels came a disturbing and perplexing national election in Canada that made me sit back in my chair, dumbfounded by the contradictory notion of democracy that gives people the choice whether or not to vote but then suggests that the chosen leaders represent all the people.

These recent three global events were on my mind the other day when I was walking around this city with a friend and exploring places I’d never been.The pollen was everywhere, that day. It was ever-present. This is a kind of pollen that comes off the trees and floats gracefully in the light breeze until the individual puff balls swoop upwards from the tailwind of a passing car. Then, they invariably get caught in your eyelashes and your arm hairs as you cycle—I even choked on one yesterday!

But still, I watch them with wonder and don’t begrudge them. I don‚Äôt have allergies, gratefully, and so I’m not bothered like some of my puffy-eyed friends who shake their tissue-clutching fists at them. To me, they’re the perfect, most gentle way of easing in a new season that there could ever be. They’re really serene. Begrudging them would be like begruding a perfect harmony sung by a church choir. Beautiful is just beautiful.

It’s sort of like the clouds are shaking themselves out a bit. A temporary sharing. Gifts from the fluffy skies.

Spring is the season of increased activity and exercise. We’re all hustling to get on with projects and get moving towards some of the year’s goals, but these little fluff balls somehow remind me that taking a breath, taking it easy, believing it will be alright, is exactly what the season really needs.

It’s exactly what I really need.

Watching this pollen has really made me realize that the only thing that is really in control is time—the passing seasons. Nothing can stop it and, really, it’s all that matters. It’s all we have. Time is. Time will bring us to new world events, new perplexing news, new perspectives, but it’s only in those moments of complete presence in our here and now that we’re really alive, existing, letting the moments carry us, just like the pollen. Its existence is so simple. Ours is too, when we let it be.

That’s why I have taken time to learn some yoga this spring; paint the planter boxes on my balcony garden bright, crazy colours with a good friend; leave early and walk to appointments to enjoy the warmth in the air; and greet my plants as they emerge into the world of the living. (Yeah, I know, I’m the crazy lady who has full conversations with her tomato plants!) Basically, what I’m doing is just trying to take it one step at a time, not to force things, not to push too hard, not to stress about what is next on the horizon but to just let the breeze carry me there.

Like the puff balls of pollen, I’m just going with it. I’m aiming for destinations, but how can you tell where these projects will truly land? And, who can fight the wind? More importantly, who would want to?

I wish you some gentle gliding this season, coupled with those special moments of noticing that make days fuller and hearts lighter.

Happy blooming,

Balcony Garden
Letter from a Fan

©2024 Ember Swift. All Rights Reserved.
Design by Janine Stoll Media.