Spring in Lin’an, China

Fallen cherry blossoms

One of the great pleasures of teaching here at ZAFU is getting to experience spring, which we don’t really have on Maui. Every day we can see changes around us.

Azelas everywhere

More azela bushes

Flowers pop up

Couples with picnics reappear to hang out at East Lake

Cattails on East Lake

Swans on East Lake

Lounging on East Lake

Melinda came from the Shanghai bustle to enjoy a spring weekend in Lin’an with us

Lilac blossoms scent the air

Lotus flowers are back on the lake

Delicate flowers

Skaters of all ages come to our ZAFU campus

On ZAFU’s Magnolia Lane–on my way to classes

Each day new flowers bloom

ZAFU is known for its landscaping and plants

I did write Ann Emmsley, from our UHMC Agriculture Department, because I think the soil looks wretched–way too pale.  How can they grow anything?  When I compost at home, the soil is rich and dark.  But I’m an English major, so I needed advice.

Does this soil look good to you?

Ann says it is hard to tell just by looking, but the soil seems to have good “tilth,” which means, “The condition of soil or land that has been tilled, especially with respect to suitability for promoting plant growth.”

Ann says the soil seems to lack OM (organic matter), but as you can see, the results are good.  The trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables look very healthy.

Magnolia blossom

Vegetables are big and tasty

Ann says I should read Farmers of Forty Centuries.

“Bio-Dynamic Farming Practice”  notes, “[T]he shortcomings of chemical farming were already apparent at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the agronomist, F.H. King, publishing his concerns in 1911. The publication, Forty Centuries of Farming, records King’s concerns regarding the degradation of agricultural land in the USA, his travels in Asia and his observation of the traditional methods of maintaining fertility that had been successfully practiced for thousands of years in Asia . This book makes for inspirational reading.” from  < http://www.biodynamics-tas.com.au/web/en/biodynamic/Biodynamics/agriculture.html>

I have to admit that isn’t in my current pile of books yet, but I am assured that the Chinese are masters of farming.

In the garden of the ZAFU International Office

Office pond with colorful carp

Barry is back in shorts

Under a lilac tree at East Lake, and I’m not wearing layers and layers of clothes

At the entrance to our school this week, workers transplanted huge trees to create a forested look for Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University

Those getting wedding photos on East Lake now look hot instead of cold

I bragged too early to my cousin Elaine in Illinois about how great the spring weather is here.  Promptly the temperatures went to 90+ and then back down to the 50s.  However, right now I’m sitting in front of a fan with the windows open.   The students here say it is too hot.  With my many years of experience on Maui, I say it is just right! 🙂

My winter coat is washed and drying. I think it is safe to pack it away for at least several months.

I hope you are enjoying spring wherever you are.

Zài jiàn! Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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