We visited Shouguang’s Vegetable Museum earlier this week. When I first spied this huge bowl in the museum I wondered what on earth it was for (and how they made it). Most of the artifacts and displays were life size.
Turned out to be a very detailed diorama of farming during the era that was the theme of the room.
I reminded me of the Where’s Waldo books we had when my son was growing up.
It seems like every city/area/town in China has something that is special to it. In Weifang it’s kites and paper cut art work. In Shouguang it’s vegetables.
The annual “High-Tech International Vegetable Expo” is in full swing right now. It is an event like no other in my experience. Seattle’s Garden show in February is one, not quite comparable event. In Shouguang the displays are made up of vegetables, not flowers. The displays are much, much larger. Also, there are eleven large greenhouses of displays and vendor exhibits.
Some are artful:
Some are more scientific, like this display of plant cloning:
…and this area where they demonstrate vertical systems that could even work in an apartment:
…and this area where they demonstrated aqua culture and integrating it with living spaces:
Some were not really about vegetables, maybe “vegetation”, all-be-it interesting, would be more accurate for this display of desert plants (typical of displays they had for several climates):
…and the orchids:
Vendors ranged from selling candy and toothbrushes, to plants and vegetable, to tractors and irrigation systems.
All in all a rather exhilarating, but also exhausting day.
I worked on composition while I was in China. Not technical composition, like the rule of thirds or leading lines (although I use these); I was trying to create images that gave a sense of place: What makes Shouguang uniquely itself? what does it share? The question of sharing was with respect to other cities in China and to other places in the world.
I did manage to do a series of posts on Shouguang after I got home this fall (posting has been pretty haphazard for me this year). The pictures for the above gallery were chosen to attempt to show the magnitude of the “small” city and convey that it also feels like a place for people. It didn’t feel impersonal, just spread out. Plus one picture from a traditional Chinese garden in Weifang, and a rather blurry photo of the smallest hummingbird I have ever seen. I thought at first that it was one very large bumblebee, then my son pointed out its beak. It was a dark, grey day so there was no chance for clarity.
Vibrant fallen leaf.
Cormorants on a raft.
Sunset waiting for the ferry, Vashon.
Rose illuminated by the fall morning sunlight.
Amazing fall color.
More amazing fall color.
Even more amazing fall color.
Arriving home the clear air and splendid fall colors hit me between the eyes. I believe that my perception was sharpened by the muted and hazy conditions in Shouguang during the first half of the month. It really was a “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” experience. 2017 Favorites
I loved this wonderful park along the west bank of the Mihe River. It runs about 3/4 mile (1.25 km) between the two car bridges. Near each of the car bridges was a pedestrian (plus cyclists and scooters) bridge. One of them was obviously the old roadway but the other was a graceful gently arched bridge.
As I mentioned in an earlier post one the Mihe River runs through the eastern part of the city of Shouguang.
You can see a larger version of any photo by clicking on it.
These are some street scenes. In my experience, which isn’t vast but also isn’t negligible (this was my seventh trip to China), these are typical of a Chinese city. Just like the markets have a wider variety of eggs and vegetables than one typically finds in the US, there is also a much wider variety of vehicles.
I sometimes wonder if Seattle would do better to look into some of these, instead of trying to get people out bicycling in the rain, up steep hills on the poorly maintained, bumpy streets. I’ve seen some clever, three-wheeled scooters and cycles that are more stable than bicycles and have some amount of shelter from rain.
On the eastern edge of the main part of the city is the Mihe River. The area along the river is a big and quite lovely park.
As I approached the river for the first time I saw something I had not seen before: several vendors selling fishing poles, nets, and fish traps. Often in China one will see vendors, selling food, kites, pinwheels, balloons. Walking along the river there were lots of folks, even families out fishing.
In the fall season there is a holiday period called “golden week” that starts on October 1st, which is National Day. A Chinese parallel, in some ways, to Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA.
At the community where my son lived they had a nice celebration of National Day in the evening with food and a show in an outdoor area in the middle of the complex, it included performances by dance and martial arts schools, poetry reading, and performances by individuals and small groups, ranging from very modern to traditional.
In another park the walk ways had these lovely bas relief (I’m not sure that is quite the right term). The walk way divided to go around a water lily pond and on one side of the pond they were dragons, the other had phoenixes then when the paths joined into one they had vegetables. Each of the bas reliefs was about 2 1/2 feet square, and they were all different. Here is a gallery of samples:
In September and October I visited a “small” city (roughly the population of Seattle) considered rural in China. The city of Shouguang in the prefecture level city of Weifang in Shandong province.
Shouguang merits mention in Wikipedia! It is the vegetable capital of the world (self proclaimed). The city hosts an International High-Tech Vegetable Fair every year in April/May. I went a couple of years ago: I’ll meet you at the giant bok choi. It was a lot of fun, but we didn’t see the city itself at that time.
Fast forwarding, my son got a job teaching at a new school in Shouguang and moved there over the summer, so this fall I had a chance to explore. Shouguang is a seasonal city, they roll out the carpet and have wonderful gardens oriented to being at their peek in the spring. In the fall it has a more relaxed charm. Over the course of this month I am planning to share a little bit about Shouguang in the fall. With any luck I’ll be able to explore it again next spring.
One fun feature of Shouguang was the sculptures around town, especially in the parks. Shouguang has a large amount of land dedicated to parks. Each park seems to have its own personality. The first sculpture I noticed was a giant strawberry tucked among some trees in a park. As I wandered along more of them appeared. Then I saw the giant pumpkin patch.
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