Thursday, November 05, 2009

You might ask, "Terry, why do you carry a camera around all the time?"

And I'd answer, I carry a camera with me all the time because in this place you never know what interesting and unique thing might present itself, at any hour of the day.

Take for example this denizen of the northern forests of Asia – the Bok Choy Tree, caulis vireo arboreus. Most westerners think that the slimy green stuff that comes in their Chop Suey is some sort of cabbage as in the leafy ground growing plant that our Irish brethren prepare with their Corned Beef. Or maybe some of us think of it as the lettuce-like plant that provides a bed for the complementary watermelon that follows the meal at the local Chinese bistro. But if you were thinking either of these things you’re dead wrong because Bok Choy is actually the flower of a very rare tree native to a narrow latitudinal band roughly between the valley of the Yellow River and southern Siberia. It’s a night bloomer, and the buds only appear on nights in months ending in “R” and when the moon is within 10% of its full form. It’s hard to find the tree, and it’s even harder to find one in flower so I consider myself lucky to have encountered this specimen on my walk home tonight from dinner at the local Indian restaurant. What makes this particular tree so amazing is that not only did I catch it in full bloom, but it also happens to be the sole remnant of a vast forest that once stretched from the Bay of Korea to the Bo Hai, across the Liaoning Peninsula. Over the millennia, the forest has been reduced to a few copses here and there plus the occasional ornamental specimen on the grounds of the random government vacation compound. Here though, some forward thinking landscape architect saw fit to leave it where it stood when the Hongmei District was built around it. And tonight I just happened to walk past a mere 2 days past the full moon, amazing when taken in the context that I’ve walked by this very tree a hundred times before and never caught it in all its glory.

What a wonderful thing, an artifact from an earlier age whose presence brightens up an urban residential landscape while providing sustenance to the dwellers of the apartment building. I know I for one consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon it.


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