Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Winter - and Bugs Too


            Winter weather is upon us, and reading the current news stories about Taiwan temperatures we can expect almost everything – including a freeze in the event that the climate of 50 odd years ago should repeat itself, when it dropped down to below zero.

However, winter in Taipei is not so much a matter of being uncomfortably cold as it is a case of being coldly uncomfortable.  Here, the winds blow with a sneaky effect, picking up vagrant drops of rain and dropping them down your neck with the coyness of a particularly unpleasant little boy dropping a garter snake down the back of his schoolmate’s dress.

The rain itself has the most unpredictable manner of starting and shutting itself off.  Should you decide the weather is worth a gamble, it will be certain to pour down in buckets; if you dress like a Maine sea captain preparing for a no’wester, the sun comes out with unmistakable vigor.

There is nothing invigorating about winter in Taipei.  It is merely gloomy and musty and no matter how cold it may get the mosquitoes never give up; they just get hungrier and more affectionate.  Winter also brings with it a particularly hateful assortment of creeping, crawling and flying sects.  Nothing is more loathsome than to wake up with one of these hairy, tarantula-looking affairs crawling on the ceiling like a preview of an invasion from Mars.  Worse, if you find them on your pillow.

One little animal which causes many ladies to scream and scram is the friendly little fellow they call the “pi-fu”; the little lizard that sits with beady eyes and coiled tongue snapping up wayward houseflies and mosquitoes who happen along.  If you realize that this little chap doesn’t bite, is a member of the familiar and chummy chameleon family and on top of that eats three times his weight in vermin daily, you can not only welcome him – you encourage him to stay.

Winter squalls are particularly disgusting in Taiwan.  All the raincoats in the world are useless in protecting you from the water that comes cascading down. It splashes up under your raincoat or slicker, and if you happen to be a woman – so much the worse.  It blows in from every direction including the positive parallel, seeking out the tiniest gap that exists in your clothing.

Taiwan houses are rarely heated so the average resident finds himself walking around the house in a coat and sweater arrangement most of the time.  Taiwan houses are made for you just to sit under the broad eaves, behind the panes of glass in the sliding doors and watch the rest of the world become soggy and miserable.

Experts argue for winter, saying that without it the crops would not grow – and this is undoubtedly true.  There may be those nature lovers who find nothing more exhilarating than to stride manfully out of a reasonably cozy living room or den, forsaking pipe and bowl as it were, to seek for the will-o-the-wisp called a “healthy walk.”

As for me, when I am out in the winter weather – when it gets its wateriest – I shut my eyes, practice Yogi and pretend that I am basing away on the sunny beaches to be found in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Hawaii and so many other places in the world.  It is a nice way to escape the worst of the season – and maybe with a little luck, time will fly by and spring will come to spread the story of the summer which is only shortly to follow.

Reprinted with permission. 

Joe Brooks wrote a column for the China Post newspaper in the mid 1950s.

Joe later later published this and other articles in his book, 
"From A Yankee Notebook"

Find more information about Joe Brooks and this series of articles HERE

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