These are pictures of our last few days in Hawaii. In the depths of winter, I will look at these and wish.
Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. -Henry James
When a friend and I decided to visit the city of Harbin, China last month, T said it was because I wanted to experience a little more winter. It has been a rather odd season in Shenyang. January brought two to three days of 32F followed by two to three days of 15F followed by much of the same. Weird. I’d worn my lighter weight down coat for two months while so many were suffering a polar vortex in the US. For Harbin, I pulled out the heavy duty Lands End coat and the trusty (original pair of) Merrell boots, a few layering items, some hand warmers and the camera, then S and I hopped on a train and headed out.
Located at 44 degrees North, Harbin, or Ha’erbin, China is famous for the annual Ice & Snow Festival, celebrating 30 years in 2014. We began our tour with a stop at Sun Island Park for the Snow Sculpture Art Exposition. Many artists create works of snow in this wooded park, the detail and size of which I find difficult to believe, and I’ve seen them twice in the last few years. We spent the afternoon there, and were even treated to a special show. You can check it out here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFgwynmz1yI.
We moved on to Ice and Snow World. This year, there were many models of churches and church themes. The largest monument was modeled after a church in Reykjavík. There were Gothic archways and pagodas and more. I am so glad we saw them in the afternoon sunlight and in the LED-filled evening hours. The sculptures were gorgeous as well. We went later in February and, with a “warm” winter, we could see some rounding edges on the various displays. That didn’t take anything away from the view for me.
On Sunday, we hired a taxi to take us around the various sites, including the Siberian Tiger Park, the Temple of Bliss, the Pedestrian Street, then back to the train station. We were lucky to have a beautiful weekend in Harbin, not too cold, but a nice, winter experience. You can check out CNN’s coverage, http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/03/travel/harbin-ice-festival-2014/, and get my view too. Enjoy.
Click on the photo for more details.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!”
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he:
“Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
We visited the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand earlier this month. It was a beautiful way to spend my birthday – with friends and family and so many elephants. Maybe a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, or a rope, but in my mind, they are simply amazing.
Click on any of these photos for a caption and description. These are just a few of the many, many pics from a beautiful day. And your moment of zen – http://youtu.be/Tmh4RT6Vjkk
Thank you, Michelin, for organizing your huge meeting in Paris this year so that I could wrangle a trip and tag along. I visited my favorite city in the world for maybe the 27th time. I walked and walked and walked (and ate) and walked. We got to see some wonderful friends, and a fantastic brother! And I got to spend some time in a foreign country where I am not on constant display and can communicate.
Tim always makes fun of me for taking the same pictures in Paris, over and over. I love the way the Eiffel Tower looks from underneath. I love how pastries look in their box. I love the Pont Alexandre III in the afternoon light and its view of the Tower. I love the architecture and the dogs and the women in their fashionable clothes. Paris, take me away!