I have talked about Ms Zong Xiusong, the pioneer educator in Changshu in the early Republic years(1910s and 1920s). Her youngest daughter Yu Deming has two daughters, Helen and Margret. Helen, a university professor in Dallas, Texas, visited Changshu, her mother’s hometown, for the first time on September 3, 2011. She brought along David Lu, a Stanford engineering grad and an MBA student on a summer job in Beijing. It was an eye opener and an experience they will never forget.
I will sort out some photos of the trip and have them posted on this website. Here I will simply say “Welcome home, Helen and David!”
Helen and David and a relative
At the West Lake in Hangzhou, there is a quiet corner with a large patch of lotus plants. Ling spotted two late blooming flowers and I found a “shower head” with lotus seeds inside which will soon fall back into the mud. Next spring the seeds will germinate and in summer the lotus blossoms will be back in their full glories. For more than a thousand years, the lotus, the plant with its leaves and the flowers, has symbolized purity against its muddy origin, and has attracted generation after generation of Chinese poets and painters. The lotus pond is also a small ecosystem. Wait! What is stirring underneath the leaves? Ah, a duck peddles in the forest of lotus plants searching for her next meal.
In Shanghu Lake in Changshu, workers picked up buckets of lingjiao (water chestnuts) early in the morning. Our hosts bought a few kilos and we ate the tender ones right away. So fresh, so juicy!
In the wetland countryside of the Yangtse River delta, water-born plants will soon shed their leaves and go to sleep. The summer is fading away…
Liangzhu is a small rural town about an hour’s drive from Hangzhou city center on the way to Huzhou. In 1938, archeologists made significant findings in several neolithic sites around this town. More sites around the Lake Taihu later were found to be of the same age , that is, 3000-2000 bce, and similarly contain black pottery and very finely worked jade objects. In 1959, the term Liangzhu Culture was officially recognized.
Finally, in 2005, an earthen wall, or what is left of it, measuring 1800 meter by 1500 meter was discovered near the town. At the base it measures 40-60 meters. Today we can view the archeological findings in a beautiful new museum near the wall, and an area of 38 sq km which covers many sites has been put under control.
All the school textbooks tell us that the Chinese civilization originated in the Yellow River basin. The Yangtse River delta and the Lake Taihu region were said to be barbaric and made no contribution to it. Now we know that it is not true.
A friend in Hangzhou brought my wife and myself to the museum a few days ago. Next to the wall are green rice paddies. The people who lived here five thousand years ago were already planting rice.
Now I am reading about Liangzhu, which means “A Good Isle in the Water”.