Monday, February 26, 2007

snow water

Chinese poet and essayist Wei An (1960-1999) bases much of his material on the traditional East Asian calendar, which divides the year into 24 solar terms. Currently we are in the second pentad (次候) of Yǔshuǐ (雨水), which translates as "rain water." Yǔshuǐ begins when the sun reaches the celestial longtitude of 330° and ends when it reaches 345°. As the name implies, this is the time of year when the temperature is said to have risen enough to make rain more likely than snow.

Based on my experience living in Reno for the past two years, I think we would do well to name this particular period -- February 24-28 -- "snow water" (雪水). A nonsense phrase in Chinese. But I suspect it would make sense to Nevadans. It's still cold enough, and Reno is at a sufficiently high altitude, to make snow more likely than rain. But it is a wet rain: fat flakes, spitting more than drifting, melting almost instantly upon meeting the ground. It's been flurrying almost all day, and now with some intensity. But there's been virtually no accumulation. A time of gray skies, pink light at sunset, and the season's first phlox worming up through the ground.

The most appealing aspect of Wei's work is the patience with which he observes the natural world. He was never a productive writer; he believed that the pace of his writing process should mirror the gradual changes of the seasons. My chosen profession may never allow me to adopt such a practice, but surely there are small ways to slacken the tempo of the world. Watching snowflakes must be one.


Flights Of The Mind said...

American Tool!

"A cog in the machine that simultaneously constructs and deconstructs your reality."

that really made me explore your blog.

A great post


Flights Of The Mind

Jim said...

Thank you, Flights of the Mind. I thought this post was pretty esoteric, so I'm especially grateful for your kind words.

Flights Of The Mind said...

American Tool!

Thank You

Am always interested in investigating The Unknown.

Just love poetry...

And appreciate the sublime translations.