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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Fires

Another story from ...

     In the past few days I have been brought sharply to an awareness that Spring is upon us.  Not to mention the stories of cherry-blossoms blooming in Ali Shan, Yangminshan and all the other places where cherry-blossoms bloom; or the studied disdain which many of the people of Taipei have for that precious overcoat which shielded them from winter's cold, stormy blasts, there are other signs which permeate the air.  These are the harbingers of the Vernal Season - heralds of spring.

     Thousands of visitors to the city zoo have seen the population increase.  Fawns, baby birds, tiny rabbits all have appeared on the scene giving vent to much enthusiasm on the part of the children (young and old alike) who crowd around their apartments.

     There is even a baby monkey who scrambled through the bars to the top of his cage.  Surveying the world through bright, button eyes his attention fell on a dropped newspaper.  One sight of the headlines of today and with a frightened 'eep' he was back to the comparative safety of his mother's arms.  His chattering indicated displeasure with that outside world where his strange "cousins" had made such a mess of the simple business of earning their "coconuts and bananas."

     But spring is evident in more ways than one.  Chinese men differ from Westerners, not so much in their liking or not liking a well-turned-ankle, but in the way they display their approval.  By such a statement I hold that Chinese gentlemen do not stand on street corners with porkpie hats, swinging a long chair while giving out with jive talk punctuated with soul felt whistles.  For them, the five-thousand-years of accumulated Chinese culture has brought on a more adept means of displaying this appreciation, sometimes involuntarily.  One such incident took place just a day or so ago in New Park.

     An old gentleman sat on the park bench, engrossed in his reading and oblivious to the scores of children galloping around his feet, office workers strolling through the winding walks and soldiers sunning themselves on the inviting grass.  His tiny, half-moon spectacles occasionally glinted in the sunlight as he twisted his head into a more suitable position to make out the lines of print.  

     Occasionally, too, the scholarly ancient would nod his head in impending sleep, catching himself only just in time to prevent the spectacles from sliding over the tip of his nose.  In once such drowsy moment he permitted the book to fall into his lap and lie in the swath of his long down,  He rubbed his arthritic hands together and with solemn benevolence surveyed the scene.

     Along the path, hurrying for some appointment, came a girl of breathtaking beauty.  Obviously this girl would never be worried about any "Christine" adventure.  As she swung along the path her modern Chinese gown tightly sheathing her body, moved in constant appreciation of the contours beneath.

     The benign attitude of the old gentleman underwent a startling transformation.  No sufferer of myopia he, his vision became as the eagle.  Before my eyes his corpuscles began doing a tango and the ancient veins thrummed to the beat of youthful fire.  the glasses, so essential for scanning the classic lines of poetry fell into his lap unheeded, unwanted.  These classic lines needed no assistance wither to be seen or to be appreciated.

     His head turned as she approached and his lips pursed in a gesture of pleasure.  For a moment I feared that culture or no -- he was ready to sound the wolf call.  But she passed on down the path to her appointment, and he sank back once more upon the bench.

     Book in hand and glasses on nose, he resumed his reading.  But now. there was a more youthful cant to his slender shoulders, a devil-may-care tilt to his eyeglasses.  He hoisted one rheumatic knee over the other and happily, if somewhat reluctantly, went back to his ancient works.

     I, knowing this little adventure was over, continued on my own way.  But I was happy that someone else in Taipei knew that spring had arrived.

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

  This story and other articles found in this Blog came from his book, 
"From A Yankee Notebook in Taiwan"

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

Please leave your Comments below, or e-mail me ~~

 The temperature in Taipei, 30 March 2012, rose into the high 80s F.



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