Thursday, February 24, 2011

Home Away from Home

I am sorry to have been so obsessed with other subjects that I have forgotten to write about some of the most basic parts of daily life for Jill and me here in Nanjing. 

Those of you who have been here before will know that most of the Grinnell faculty who teach at Nanjing, just like the university's other academic visitors, are lodged at the Foreign Experts' Building, a university guesthouse close to the university's southern gate on Guanzhou Street. The main part of the building boasts four floors, whereas a wing toward the west has three.  I am not sure how many rooms there are altogether, in part because we pass very few of them enroute to our place, room 101 on the ground floor of the main building. As you can see, the room has two large and comfortable beds, a desk and chair (where I sit now as I type these words), two chairs by the window (each chair big enough to serve as a loveseat, I would think), a couple of cupboards, a TV, and two large closets. The private bath is large, and features a tub/shower as well as a western-style toilet (in case you were wondering...).

The windows look out on a small yard or courtyard where some bushes remain in leaf and some less hardy plant life is now again coming to life. Jill has taken special pleasure in attending to the birds who have frequented this space, but we have also noticed that some folk have also used the area for hanging out wash or airing out bed clothes.

The good weather we have been enjoying of late—sunny and warm—has encouraged everyone to get their washing done and give their duvets a good airing. One day Jill was out with her camera and captured some of the color and texture as reflected against a large dormitory quite near us.

But the good weather has also spurred the university's gardeners into action. We have noticed deliveries around campus of various potted plants, including a rather fetching array of kale, cycad palm, and a boxwood-like bush on the steps of a restaurant across the lane from our building. And, as I may have mentioned before, we have seen around campus signs that some of the earliest blooming bushes have begun to push out their flowers, hopeful that the worst of winter is behind them.  Well, we can hope. Jill noticed that the guidebooks report that each year in late February and early March Nanjing hosts an International Plum Blossom Festival out at Purple Mountain, one of the most visited sites in the Nanjing area. So we are definitely in the mood for some early spring!

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