Inversion

Space Needle shrouded in fog

Space Needle shrouded in fog

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.

Day 210: Grace

Poetry in Motion

Grace in Motion

A gardener trims the shrubs in the olympic garden at he Shimao Riviera Gardens housing compound in Pudong, Shanghai. Themed gardens seem to be popular in expat housing compounds and a large staff keeps the sculptures polished, the lawns plucked and the shrubbery trim.

Day 200: Sunset at last!

Sun sets behind the Huangpu River

Sun sets behind the Huangpu River

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.

Day 198: Blue Sky, Sunny Day

The sky over Shanghai has finally lost its gray pall

The sky over Shanghai has finally lost its gray pall This is the Metro stop on line 2, Shanghai Science & Technology Museum

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!

Day 112: Clouds

Clouds pass over Seattle.

Clouds pass over Seattle.

We moved from Seattle to Shanghai and had to adjust to life in a massive city of 24 million people after two years in a city of 608,000. But cities, regardless of their size, are all basically the same urban environment; Just like big dogs and little dogs are all dogs. The biggest difference we’ve had to adjust to is the environment, specifically the air. Seattle may often have gray skies because of clouds bringing rain, but when the rain ends, the skies are a deep blue populated by great, big puffy clouds. The sky changes from day-to-day and even from hour-to-hour. In Shanghai the sky hardly ever changes. It’s a dull gray. Every day. Day after day. Now that can’t be you say, surely the sun shines, right? Yes, you’re right, the sun does shine on occasion. On sunny days, the sky is a light, hazy gray.

Day 106: Sprinkler Men

Watering the shrubbery along Century Boulevard.

Watering the shrubbery along Century Boulevard.

The public landscaping in Shanghai is quite extensive and very well done; luxury apartment compounds, high rise office towers, parks and Pudong’s wide boulevards are extensively planted and very well taken care of. Everyday you will see an army of workers planting, trimming, sweeping and watering. For such a modern city it is surprising, at first, to this westerner, that there is not more utilization of technology–automatic sprinklers. But China is still in the early stages of development, relatively speaking, as a modern economy and society, and there are 1.6 billion or so people to employ, so it is quite understandable that there is a reliance on manual labor. And that small Honda engine is doing wonders for the AQI.

Day 103*: Wherever

Day 103--2 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.