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Here in China

My first impressions of China had been laced with cold, futuristic buildings and layers of smog. Of course there is more to my quick judgements but these were just my thoughts at face value. My heart dropped for those covering their mouths with masks; seeking protection from the pollution. Don’t we all deserve to be graced with clean air to breathe? So when I flew over my destination with the sun shining and the colour green reflecting back at me, I let my shoulders drop and smiled to myself.

As a lover of nature, my senses have been running wild here. I live on an island of botanical goodness. It feels like a mystical dream. Each evening I hear the joy of crickets from my window and, if I am lucky, a friendly owl calling for his dinner; they all join together in lullaby, singing me to sleep. The air is welcoming and the sun makes its way out in a lazy fashion by at least noon.

Across the bridge, stepping onto the mainland, the commotion can be felt in every direction. From the free range, town chickens to the grumble of the motor bikes. The outdoor barbecues are lit and the stools are placed. The remaining trees line the lively, litter covered streets. Dotted with tables of men and woman playing cards; many with cigarettes teetering on their bottom lip. The balance remains through laughter and conversation as the bets are set. I observe quietly while the stray pups give me funny looks.

Arriving at the fresh food market my vegetable shaped heart begins dancing in excitement. There are over 100 stalls I would say. All glowing with goodness. Some woman wearing traditional dress sitting patiently behind their spread. I stick to the plant side and usually base my pick on friendliness. And although the plastic bags are handed out without much consideration for their outrageous life span, the food is bare of packaging; something I struggled to avoid in the west. This, to me, was a beautiful thing.

My days have been full of opportunity to learn not only about the Environmental Education initiatives at XTBG but also about myself, the different ways of the world, and the importance of restoring our connection to nature knowing that our behaviour and attitudes either add to the greater good or the darkness of overconsumption and poor planning. These modes of thinking and actions are all dependent upon our relationship with nature and the gifts she provides. For there was a time when we didn’t take more than we needed. A balance existed. The beauty of which can be observed in the craftsmanship of tools made from a materials such as bamboo, fabric dyed from natural findings, medicine derived through plant discoveries, and a diet rich in both wild edibles and cultivated types; keeping the villagers in good health and company.

Let’s get closer to this again. For our minds would rest, our bodies would thank us and the reward could be heard in the songs of the happiest of birds.

Publication date: 11 February 2015

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