Clear and Bright: Paulownia blooms

October 12th, 2011
by Jo Law

‘Clear’ 清 ching and ‘Bright’ 明 ming refers to the day devoted to paying respsects to one’s ancestors. This generally involves attending and cleaning their graves. In the old days, this might entailed a bit of travel. The day is a public holiday in Hong Kong to make allowance for such activities. Unlike the similar Chung yeung festival 重陽節 (the 9th day of the 9th moon) in autumn, Ching ming is a solar calendar date: 15 days from the vernal equinox and officially falls on the same day every year.

The familiar poem Qingming by Tang poet, Du Mu 杜牧, is taught to all primary school children in Hong Kong. It describes the weather of ‘clear and bright’ as rather wet, misty and incessantly rainy. Certainly, looking up at the escarpment this afternoon and seeing stratus cloud shrouding landform accompanied by a fine drizzle conjured up the poetic image of a misty and moist spring day.

I hear on radio that the grain harvest has started in Western Australia. Over east contractors are travelling up to Queensland to start the harvest and will move southwards towards Victoria as the season progresses. They are expecting a bumper winter crop. As are the stone fruit growers of northern New South Wales. Apparently, the rain, the cold, and the flowering had all worked out just right this year. Meanwhile, we counted 4 fruit on our almond tree and the figs on the tree we saw earlier last month have now all gone.

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