Christmas in China is Change


Since 2001, when we moved to North Idaho, we made it a family tradition,on Christmas Day after presents and breakfast and stockings and such, to visit Higgins Point, view the bald eagles and watch them pluck small kokanee salmon from the water and tear them apart as they roosted in the branches high above the shore, avoiding the ┬ácarcases falling from the trees like so many bloody leaves. Last year, living in NYC and forced to alter that tradition, we spent the day visiting Central Park, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. Far away from the carnage of the eagles, and no fish in sight, we feasted on hot dogs from the dirty water dog vendors on the streets of New York. This year, once again, finds us living apart from the eagles of Lake Coeur d’Alene, except this time we are in Shanghai, China and so we were presented with the need to modify our Christmas Day tradition once more. Christmas Day 2013 found Melinda, James and I wandering the narrow streets and back alleys of Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town 30 km west of Shanghai; “The Venice of China” is how they advertise it, but I would be disappointed if I ever visit Venice and it is this small and overpopulated with souvenir shops and stands selling animal organs and cloven hooves slathered in blood-red bbq sauce. Overblown Venice comparisons aside, it was a lovely day of unhealthy, grey air to walk along the green canals and observe the fish mongers scaling and chopping up their fresh, flopping catches: small silver fish, gigantic brown clams and large golden carp netted from the waters of the nearby lake. Inedible by my standards, but snapped up the local tourists. What is it with Christmas and dead fish anyway?

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