Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Saturday Evening Walk

With Typhoon Muifa set to visit us on Sunday night, I thought I might as well enjoy a long walk after work  today (I went in for about seven hours to work on getting ready for students), while we're still enjoying nice weather.  So, with my Kindle along in case a good reading spot turned up, I walked down the gorgeous walkway by the ocean, then went and climbed on the rocks for about an hour.

I enjoyed being alone with my thoughts as I hopped and skittered over rocks and boulders, occasionally splashing into a bit of trapped ocean water, or pausing to admire unique patterns of barnacles.  It was low tide, so the waves weren't doing anything impressive or dangerous, and besides, there were dozens of Chinese people out there enjoying similar activities to my own, so I judged it as relatively safe fun.  Knowing me, I could have found a way to make it dangerous, but lately, I have not been nearly as klutzy as usual (well, I did bang my head on the hood over the oven and jam a thumbnail tonight, but that's just child's play really).  There were a few boulders that held particular interest to me:  the way that the sun hit the barnacles and shells that covered them, they looked like they were made of gold.

As I meandered over some smaller rocks, I came upon a truly arresting sight:  a bright purple starfish!  His coloring was actually what I would call electric purple, with a bit of orange as well.  He seemed content on the rock he was gripping, and I don't care for living souvenirs, so I marveled at him for a few minutes and then left him alone.  I also enjoyed terrifying a small crab, who scuttled away at remarkable speed.  There were loads of nasty sea-bug-like-creatures that resembled . . . I have no clue what they resembled.  Alien life forms?  They were quite creepy and their scurrying habits a bit disconcerting, so I avoided them.  A helicopter flew overhead, so close and so low that I thought it may crash land on top of me, but then it landed next to the walkway directly above.  It seemed to be somehow related to the China Coast Guard, though I can't be certain.  I think it was surveying the coastline in preparation for Muifa, but there again, that is mere speculation.

After my time amongst the rocks and sea creatures, I climbed up to the wooden walkway by where the chopper had landed and walked all the way down to the Qingdao Yacht Club.  I have to admit, in the years prior to coming here, it never occurred to me that China would actually have a yacht club -- but there is certainly a very nice one here.  I also passed by the Olympic Sailing Center (it's right there with the yacht club), which you likely saw if you watched the Beijing Olympics.  There was a white lighthouse that caught my eye, so I headed over to have a look at it.  Lighthouses have captured my imagination ever since I was a little girl and saw Pete's Dragon or read the Boxcar Children book, The Lighthouse Mystery.  From the ages of about 5 to 15 (oh, heck, I still do!), I often pondered how neat it might be to live in a lighthouse.

I circled the lighthouse, paused to curiously watch a few brides doing photo shoots there, and amused several small children merely by being a foreigner.  One of the Yay Duck / Yuck Duck things about China is that staring is not considered rude.  If people see someone they consider odd or interesting (of which foreigners are apparently both), they stare and point to their heart's content.  On the one hand, it gets a bit annoying sometimes, although not so much after my year of Korea that got me accustomed to it.  On the bright side, turnabout is fair play!  I sometimes like to observe them!

On my way back, I felt that more rock-climbing was needed.  I particularly fancied some enticing large barnacle-encrusted boulders closer to where the waves were hitting (relax, Mother, it was still low tide), so I headed in that direction.  I had forgotten just how slippery my red sandals get when they're wet!  Fear not, gentle readers, I did not fall!  I slipped a little, but remained standing upright . . . or close to it, anyway.  I found a perfectly nice rock in a more secluded area, where I sat quite comfortably and enjoyed my current book on my Kindle, contentedly listening to the waves smacking the rock in front of mine.  When they got discernibly bigger and bolder (pun intended), I got up and hiked back up to the main walkway.  I only wish that my new camera were here already, so that I could have photographed my gorgeous evening walk.

Well, Muifu is supposed to hit soon.  Here's hoping that our windows hold out!  We've already brought in the plants and the balcony furniture, and apparently the emergency plan is that teachers will hole up at the school if worse comes to worse and we have to evacuate (the school is on much higher ground and is a fair distance from the ocean).  So far, Beth and I really aren't worrying.  The Chinese people living in our area don't seem worried, and we figure they probably know best.  Just to play it safe, though, in case we happened to lose power, we made sure to take showers and do the dishes tonight!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"