I have a habit of waking up quite early now in China. It has become a habit without my own recognition. Morning comes early, around 7:30 am, and unable to fall back into the world of dreams, I am forced to begin my day here in Sihui Dong. It’s not the worst habit a person could pick up, I suppose.
This morning I awoke early, as usual, then, around 7:30. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I felt more in a dream than usual, as out my window was a veritable sandstorm.
While living in Korea, we had all talked up the phenomenon of ‘Yellow Dust’, making it into a much bigger deal than it really was. In reality, the city felt a bit dirtier than usual, but the daily routine of most Seoul citizens was hardly disrupted.
However, here in Beijing, I woke today only to have a previous spring’s worth of hyperbole blown into my face – or rather swept across my already littered backyard. It frightened me, to see such a Crayola color produced by a seemingly angry Mother Nature in the city that I am living in.
The pictures we looked over later that afternoon held hints of an apocalyptic fantasy in them. Young women’s beauty hidden by starch white medical masks flashing peace signs in front of Tiananmen Square. All I could think was – why did they choose to go there in the midst of an obviously vicious sandstorm? Why weren’t they curled up in bed watching the world erupt behind the glass like me?
The sand rolls over to Beijing as a little present from the Gobi Desert in Southern Mongolia, amongst other areas that choose to share their precious ground materials with us. Cyclones roll the dust into high altitudes, and then strong cold waves produce high winds that blow the sand East and South. (Or so they say) Meterologists here report that as it’s been so cold here lately, the city will receive another six to nine sandstorms through the days to come in April and May.
I can understand why people don’t take time to understand these things, what with these giant scientific words that often don’t amount to much explanation when employed in local media (desertification: The rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil because of drought, etc, that inevitably leads to the creation of desert land.) But these are the things that could explain so much more, particularly about the ever-changing, ever aggressive environments of China…