Sep 28 2008

September…Then and Now


Many years ago, 31 to be exact, a colleague at the University of Rochester generously offered my husband and me the use of her summer home in Cape May, NJ for a week. We were new parents, struggling on a tight budget, and welcomed the prospect of a week at the shore after all the crowds had left. In a brilliant moment, we decided that if we drove all night, our 7month old daughter would sleep the entire time, we would arrive and get settled, and then we could all take a nap with our daughter when the time came.


Well, as with all best laid plans…our daughter did not sleep, rather cried much of the way, it poured rain throughout much of the trip, and at some point in our travels, unknown to us, the port-a-crib tied to the roof of our car blew off, lost forever. We arrived exhausted, only to have trouble lighting the pilot in the stove and hot water heater. But the gift of this particular day came when we went outside after all having a nap and being restored. For there covering the shrubs at the front of the house in mosaics of orange and black…were hundreds of monarch butterflies! Up until then I never thought about what happens to butterflies when the weather gets colder, but apparently they do migrate to warmer climates along with their bird-friends, and we were fortunate to have stumbled into their path on that particular day. Their glow brightened the area like a flickering candle in a jack-o-lantern, lifting our spirits and getting our week off to a beautiful start.


This time last year, I was returning from my three week Tea Tour of China, exhausted and exhilerated, reeling from the thousands of colorful images seen during that awe inspiring journey into history. A year later, I am closer to being able to put all that I saw, learned and experienced, into perspective. If you asked me a year ago if I would consider returning to China, I would have said I was unsure; it is such an exhausting trip both physically and mentally. But, at this time, in this year, I find my thoughts frequently turning to China, thinking of the places I would like to see and experiences I would like to have on my next trip there. I’m remembering the myriads of tea tasted at the tea markets, the friendliness of the tea merchants and other shop keepers, the amazing tastes and sights seen in our travels. So…time will tell, but in the meantime, I frequently think of the ancient temple at the top of Green City Mountain which was destroyed in last Spring’s earthquakes in Sichuan Province. We’re told it will be rebuilt, that the monks and other workers who reside there were all safe,0324_b61.jpg and the serenity of that quiet mountain top is changed, but not gone. Hopefully the ancient tea plants tended there are still growing, Tai Chi Chuan with its graceful, fluid movements is still practiced daily in the clear mountain air, and the old man sitting at the base of the steps leading to the temple continues to monitor the comings and goings of the place. I don’t know if I’ll go back in person, but I definitely frequently go there in my mind…and it’s a wonderful journey.