Mid-Autumn Festival Behind Us
China has 7 legal holidays in a year, which include: New Year’s Day (January 1st), Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping), May Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day.
In total, there are 11 days where we officially have a holiday
Last week had us celebrating one of those, Mid-Autumn Festival, which turned out to be a very rainy night. Our moon was nowhere to be seen and everyone was eating their mooncakes indoors instead of outside.
While I stayed in Nanning for 3 days, Little Flower was being looked after by my co-teacher, Abby. We had several practice runs between Abby and Little Flower to make sure things would go smoothly. LF seemed quite willing to let Auntie Abby take her for walks. She was especially eager to see Auntie enter the door because she knew what was in store: pieces of cookie, cake or candy to bribe her into being good.
All seemed well . . . . until I left.
According to Abby, Little Flower moped around the apartment, securing herself into corners and secretive cubbyholes where she pouted.
She really missed her mother.
Abby, meanwhile, tried everything to keep up the dog’s spirits. Food helped but LF was very unwilling to do anything other than gobble down treats before racing for cover in her hidey-holes. She refused to go out, even when Abby tried giving her little tugs on the leash.
LF just wouldn’t budge.
She dug in her paws, pulled backwards and gave Abby dirty, sideways looks.
A bit more insistent nudging on Abby’s part I’m sure would have worked but my Chinese co-teacher was worried she’d hurt the dog so she let our obstinent Chi get away with balking.
And balk she did!
For 3 days, LF held it all in until she could do so no longer. On the day I returned, Abby said LF finally went out.
“She had to go so bad her little legs were shaking!” she laughed.
She also said it was the longest squat she’d ever seen a dog take.
Well, if you’d held it in for 3 days, you’d have a long squat, too!
National Day Holidays In Front of Us
October 1st marks the People’s Republic of China’s National Day, and we officially have 3 days off. But all schools have added another 2 days to this by having make-up days on the weekends. We finished one make-up day this past weekend and will do another when we return. So for now, October 1 to 7 has many enjoying time to travel, spend time at home with family or being bored in school dorms with nothing to do.
Although some students are excited to take a trip home, quite a few will be doing the boring bit in the dorms. They are too poor to afford the cost of bus tickets home or live too far away so they are hanging out in little Longzhou with their classmates.
Little Flower and I, on the other hand, will be making a trip to Nanning for our holidays.
Yes, this time Little Flower will not be left in the care of Auntie Abby but be coming with me.
We are very fortunate that the school’s former Dean of the English Department, Mr. Pan, is heading off to Nanning by car with his wife and daughter. He was kind enough to let me and the dog ride along with them for free so we’ll be doing that tomorrow, leaving in the morning.
Mr. Pan is a gentle, quiet soul.
He was the first person to talk to me when I moved into my flat here last year. I was impressed by his English skills and soft-spoken nature. But his claim to fame on our campus has nothing to do with his English or his kind personality. It has to do with his musical talents.
Every day, I can hear Mr. Pan’s violin melodies drift from his apartment nearby mine and float skyward over the trees. His tones are lovely and well-placed, his vibrato gorgeous. Not a cringing, flat note to be heard. And he plays with great feeling, especially the beautiful Chinese classical orchestra pieces that are famous among musicians here.
It’s truly moving to listen to his stringed instrument sing.
But even more amazing is his playing of the traditional erhu (2-stringed fiddle). He’s always a favorite guest act at student performances where his rapid- fire, whinnying, The Running Horse erhu number brings down the house.
I once took lessons on how to play the erhu. That lasted about 3 weeks before I finally gave up. My fingers just weren’t adept or coordinated enough to do much of anything but make the instrument squeak in agony.
Last year, Mr. Pan was diagnosed with serious high blood pressure issues so he is now officially retired. He no longer teaches but remains on our campus in his school apartment with his wife. His 22-year-old daughter lives in Nanning, where she stays in their family’s city apartment.
Mr. Pan and I often run into one another on my walks with Little Flower. He is always telling me stories of our school and Longzhou. The most fascinating story has to do with his older sister, now deceased, who helped to build our majestic stone bridge that arches over the Li River. He said it took 3 years for the bridge to be built, from 1960 to 63. All the quarry rocks had to be carried in to the town and later cut by hand. It was a huge venture and one which involved back-breaking labor and intense strength.
I can just imagine what an incredible spirit his sister must have had to help in this venture as a common worker. In a China of the 1960s, I’m sure there wasn’t much in the way of machinery to construct that bridge. It was all just plain man and woman power.
Knowing just a little of the story makes me appreciate our stone masterpiece all the more.
Happy National Day!
On that last note, it’s off to Nanning for the dog and me. For my Chinese readers who often visit this site, I wish you Ping An (Peace) for your holidays. Enjoy!