Sunday and Monday had us roasting.
Temperatures soared into the 90s with the humidity so high that stickiness was everywhere. Dampened clothes sagged, papers and books grew limp, dormitory and apartment walls dripped with condensation.
It was a forewarning of what was yet to come for my May and June teaching in Longzhou.
Then the wind suddenly picked up on Tuesday afternoon.
Within a few hours, our wicked heat dissipated and temperatures dropped 40 degrees, plummeting us into the 50s. Skies clouded over and we all waited with growing anticipation for the drought to finally end.
We’d been tricked many times into thinking this time, we’d have some rain. But always the clouds just hung there. Sometimes thunder rolled across us but never a drop of water, much to the despair of many.
All across this region of China, and overtaking several southern provinces, the drought has brought emergency relief measures into full swing. Water has been trucked in from across country just so those in rural areas can have something to drink. Meanwhile, lakes have gone completely dry and barren farmland is cracking under the hot sun.
In this province alone, 7.8 million people have been affected with 81,000 without access to drinking water. Not even a bowl of soup for meals has been present on many rural village tables. Water is just too precious even for that.
It’s the worst in 80 years, news reports stated.
For Longzhou, the drought hasn’t left too many suffering. Our water supply has been constant throughout the township. It’s just the outer-lying farmers with their sugarcane and rice fields who have been troubled by our lack of God’s watering.
When our huge thunderstorms hit after midnight, early Wednesday morning, I could imagine the feeling of relief for those praying for thriving crops.
For us on campus, those heavy torrents of rain weren’t quite what we had wanted. Students and teachers alike were praying for the rain to let up before classes started at 8 a.m.
I know I was.
Instead, it just rained even harder when it was time for me to head out the door.
This was my first total downpour at our school. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect once I headed out of the building to trek to the classroom. I was almost about to slip on my dress shoes when I went for the heavier boots instead.
As with everywhere in China, drainage is always a big problem during any downpour. Backup is always present for Chinese water systems that have aged over the years or never been properly designed to begin with.
I sloshed about, trying to pick sidewalk pathways that didn’t have me ankle deep in water. I watched my colleagues doing the same. We teachers were rather stuck with all the main thoroughfares and grassy areas around us completely flooded.
Laughing at each others’ antics, we hurriedly splashed on tip-toes or went for fully flat-footed dashes .through vast oceans of wet.
Nor did we have any relief when we reached the concrete courts before the teaching buildings we were headed toward.
They also were inundated in water.
This left both students and faculty in somewhat of a bind. After having braved what we thought was the worst of it, we were confronted with a giant pool that didn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.
Umbrellas held high, everyone managed in their own time and pace to finally make it to the classrooms. I came in with just 3 minutes to spare before class was to officially begin. It was a miracle we began at all, I thought.
I think all of us felt quite proud of our achievements on such a dreary, nasty morning. It would have been easier to stay in bed, which I’m sure most American college kids would have done. For my first class that morning, I was happy to see only 4 stayed away.
Interestingly enough, they were all my freshmen boys.
I expected as much. The guys tend to be a bit lax in their studies for my class.
The gals, on the other hand, were seated eagerly in their chairs, all waiting cheerfully for our English language discussion warm-up to begin.
Grateful for Shelter
Our drenching caused yet another trial for a campus resident who has been known to huddle in my stairwell.
It was the outdoor cat that my neighbor across from me feeds and invites into her home from time to time.
This dainty dark striped feline can be heard meowing early morning or late at night, wanting food from the kind woman next door who puts out scrapes on a daily basis for her consumption.
Last weekend, the woman and one of our elderly residents were cleaning out the underneath storage area of our stairwell. They often collect materials for recycling and the only place to put them temporarily is in the space provided to us on the 1st floor.
After collecting for over a month, it was time to sweep out the growing pile and haul it over to the recycling center for cash.
In the midst of cardboard heaps, styrofoam packaging and bags of bottles was the kitty . . . with her 4 newborns.
She had found them a cozy place in a dark corner, on a dusty rag, far from any fear of being disturbed until today.
Naturally, she was quite upset by the comings and goings of the ladies, even though one of them she trusted. The two continued on their weekend mission to clean the place, moving out all the contents and sweeping everything away except for Kitten Corner.
After growling, hissing and stalking about the women’s feet, Mamma K (Kitty) was finally able to settle down in a protected cubbyhole. Her favorite human leaned a board against the back cement wall, shoved the kitten box into the dark space provided and left.
I half expected the mother to leave with her babies after such a traumatic 2-hour experience but she’s still there. Her little ones can be heard every so often, mewing faintly, when I leave for class or return.
It’s a good thing she opted to stay here. Our dropping temperatures and the huge rain demand a safe, warm haven for her family. Where she’s at is the perfect shelter for the kind of weather we’ve been having.
Gearing Up For The English Singing Contest
This evening, the English Association is holding the preliminaries for our upcoming English Singing Contest. 20 singers, both male and female, will be chosen tonight to perform in the finals next Saturday night where I’ll be judging.
We had discussed last semester if a speech contest should be held instead but I suggested a singing contest. These tend to be a bigger draw among the student population as everyone loves our American soulful singers and groups. Backstreet Boys are still quite a draw as is Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and current Top 10 vocal artists and their hit songs.
For tonight, I get to enjoy the contestants as an audience member, not a judge. It should be a well-attended event as classmates come to cheer on their favorites.
Next week will be an even bigger affair with everyone going all out: make-up, sparkling costumes, body glitter sprays and over-the-top personalities will alight the outdoor stage to the shrieks of young fans everywhere.
Yes, it’ll definitely be a worthy blog, one I won’t fail to report on.
Until next time, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day from Longzhou, China.