Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A green goodbye

The train to Chengdu is practically a jet plane. There are stewardesses in uniform and two cleaners who forlornly mop the shining floors throughout the journey. A security guard doubletakes when he sees Julia and I, fixing us in his mental inventory.

I'm writing this entry in hazy sunlight as we tumble mile upon mile through terraced fields. There are fir trees cresting the hills like green teardrops. Cupped in the valleys are rice paddies and low houses and crop stoops. There are ploughed hills and little scatters of villages and people working in the old ways, but my eyes have been starved of green in CQ so that's my predominant sense, that we are aswim in green. The land here is lush - we're going west, cutting across the vegetable gardens of China. It's late afternoon and Julia is trying to photograph the moon dancing along the telegraph poles.

An hour ago we said our goodbyes. Yan Yan, Deng Chuan and Wang Jun came to see us off. I felt sadness squeeze my ribcage as we parted. The two months in CQ have been guided by the care and kindness of these people, especially this trio - and they have become fast friends. The gatherings around art-making and hotpots have often been celebrations. I will miss this little gang with their sweetness and eccentricities. It's been awhile since Julia and I were part of a group and I've missed that social clustering. By cutting this link we also cut away from our shepherds through this land. We're out on our own now with a smattering of phrasebook Mandarin and a guessed itinerary. Julia has been awake half the night with a cold and I'm coming to earth after the rush of the teahouse exhibition. I wonder who's taking Ciao Q out for a walk this afternoon?

(Typing this up a year after it was written in my battered notebook, I'm happy to say that emails between myself and Wang Jun are a regular habit, with a visit forthcoming from he and Deng Chuan, that Yan Yan has sat in this house in Manchester with us for a meal and that Wang Jun snored his way from Yorkshire in the back of our car on one of our many expeditions during his Manchester residency early 2010, and that Ciao Q is still apparently wreaking havoc on his walks...)

No comments: