Seattle has been under an inversion for the past few days and many residents have been complaining about an odor associated with the ground-clinging fog. It seems to have affected the low-lying downtown area the most, but this morning, upon stepping out to walk the dogs, I noticed that here in Lower Queen Anne it smelled like Lewiston, Idaho. And it isn’t money.
For the last 7 months that we lived in Seattle we lived in a top floor apartment with a large outdoor deck that looked over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains; there were spectacular sunsets almost every night, most of which I documented on my Facebook page. Conversely, during the almost 10 months we have been living in Shanghai, looking west over the Huangpu River and the Puxi side of town, there have been two sunsets, both this week. I am hopeful now that the plum rains have ended and the AQI seems to have cleared up a bit that there will be more to come.
Finally! I’d begun to think that they sky would never clear, that I’d never see the yellow orb, the blue skies, or the varied texture of clouds floating past. When I arrived in Shanghai, first in early September 2013 and permanently that October, the AQI was mostly acceptable, or perhaps a bit unhealthy, but then winter arrived, the skies turned ashen and any appearances by the sun had the look of a sunset on Tatooine obscured by a gritty AQI. And that dreary look persisted for most of the following months, until I returned to the USA in late April. When I arrived back in Shanghai a couple of weeks ago the Plum Rains were in full force and it appeared that the the gloom would never lift. Today, that all came to an end! Although it is 8 PM and the temperature is still 85 degrees (29 C) and the humidity sits at 83%, the sun was out today, the sky was blue and clouds floated past. Oh, and the AQI was a moderate 75! Let the summer begin!
After 102 consecutive days of taking and posting a photograph the streak comes to an end. We arrived home last night after a week in Beijing and today’s gray, wet day was a perfect excuse to stay in the house, finish watching the last three episodes of this season’s House of Cards (dang, Frank Underwood!), take a nap and begin laying out our suitcases for next Sunday’s trip to the United States–a week in Seattle, nine nights in NYC, and a month in Boise with Hannah, Mike (lucky guy!) and soon-to-be granddaughter Mia Sharp.
This picture was taken this past week, in Beijing. In the mostly monotone environs of the hutongs–the walls, the roofs and the sky all covered in an ashen gray– this wall jumped out. And the inscription–“Wherever my parents go, that is my home.” really struck a cord with me, given the huge numbers of families that are split apart by the urbanization that is modern day China.