This Snowstorm

This Snowstorm

January 2008











































The last entry of my blog is a letter to Chunni, in which I mentioned “The first snow of this winter is falling right at this moment.” Actually the first snow started the day before I wrote the letter – on January 11th.

This first snow has turned into a disaster. It lasted over a fortnight from the 11th all through the 28th. The 29th, the 30th and the 31st were sunny days. It is now 23:04 on the 31st. The sunny day has been replaced by snow again. The road outside my home is turning white.

In the three sunny days, my wife lost no time in doing the Spring Festival washing and airing the bedclothes. Some of the curtains, quilt covers, and clothes have been washed, and dried on a clothesline temporarily put up between two trees in the yard for the purpose. The dripping water from the melting snow on the flat roof has made it impossible to hang the washing on the rack off the balcony.

Compared with those severely hit areas in the country, Shiyan has been lucky in terms of inconveniences. During the snowing period, the water supply was cut off once or twice. In the teaching building, some of the pipes were frozen and therefore some toilets were left not flushed. I had to go down to the second floor to fetch some water for the water dispenser in my office. The power went off but was resumed soon.

A cluster of icicles formed on a wall of the teaching building. This cluster of icicles is the biggest and longest I have seen in my life. It stretched on the wall from the top all the way down to the second floor. It was a rare sight. It was crystalline.

A boy from one of my classes slipped while walking in the corridor and had his right arm broken. I bet a lot of people had falls on the icy road. I fell on my bottom on my way to a shop and my fall aroused friendly laughter from the passers-by.

As the snow progressed, it was learned that all the buses shuttling between the city and the satellite counties had to be cancelled, stranding a lot of travellers. We were worried that the students probably would not be able to make it home after the final exam, which would come to an end at 10 a.m. on January 25th. The authorities were planning to offer extra lessons after the exam if the students were not able to go home. Luckily, on Thursday, the 24th of January, we did get a little bit of sunshine, melting some snow. And on the 25th, the temperature rose a little. Most bus routes were reopened. So scarcely had the students gone out of the exam room when a lot of long-distance coaches picked them up and headed for their homes in the satellite towns.

On Saturday, the 26th, the danew ice yunxiany when all my work was finished for the semester, it went overcast again and a leaden sky suggested more snow on the way. And really the following day it snowed like hell.

Prices of daily necessaries have been going up. Since my holiday began, my family have been on a daily shopping trip for the coming festival. My parents-in-law are supposed to come up and stay with us over the holiday. So we have bought pork, chicken, and beef for meat, as well as veg. We also have got more kitchenware and tableware. We did the shopping both in the two supermarkets in the neighbourhood and at a lane market in the open air. Despite such freezing weather, the vendors are still working. Their hands are a sorry sight. Many hands are swollen from the cold; many are frostbitten. When buying some radishes, I asked my daughter to have a look at the hands of the seller.

Though the prices of most daily foods have gone up, there is no panic shopping. I think most families can afford the present price. Still we saw there were plenty of foods both in the supermarkets and at the open-air market.

I am still waiting for the weather to get better for my trip back to my home village. I will pay a visit to my family and relatives there before the Spring Festival comes. But my family of three will be in the city for the festival. Parts of the road which I should take, I learned, are still dangerous for vehicles to travel on.

Watching the television pictures of the havoc and trouble caused by the weather in other parts of the country, I feel lucky and grateful for what we have got. Here we have power on, water running and plenty of food in the kitchen. In the city of Chenzhou, Hunan, there has been a power cut in most areas of the city. And the city is running short of food, petrol and gas supplies.

It is a difficult time for the whole nation. Even long after the disaster, its effects will still be strongly felt in the country, probably with higher prices and a shortage of commodities we have for so long taken for granted – cheap veg and fruits for example. Disasters will not beat a united nation. All of us can do our bit to help the government through with the relief work. The nation will come out stronger and more experienced for such emergencies.

Good luck, China.


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