Xiamen Love

Published 2007-05-24

The weather has turned warm and damp and it’s hard not be a little in love with Xiamen. The plants are greener, the sky is bluer, there are more people on the street, better produce at the market. In the thick air, the city vibrates. Noisy birds in the park, centipedes in the stairwell, slugs on the sidewalk, clouds of dragonflies. Bats carom in the canyons between apartment buildings. The health nuts return to the parks, early mornings and late evenings, doing the fun stuff they were doing last September: walking backwards, swinging their arms, screaming at the tops of their lungs, slapping their necks.

Air quality is life quality in China. In the summer, the air is thick with the exhalations of drying tea, sweaty bodies, camphor trees, vegetation, low tide, durians, pineapples, marine diesel. From open windows come cooking odors and snatches of conversation. Icy winter temps drive all the organic life indoors, leaving the landscape to the machines, and their noise and waste.