Friday, February 1, 2013

Virtual Drawer #2 : Ghost circles

After a very long hiatus... family & holidays on both coasts... jet lag & re-entry... I return to the time when I left off... Dongzhi, the "arrival of winter" in Shanghai.

In the days leading up to, and on the evening of, the winter solstice, chalk circles appear, drawn on the pavement that runs down the center of our lane. These circles, unlike those for the dead, have escape routes: sometimes the clean open channel, sometimes the odd little gate like the one on the bottom left. Joss, an offering to family ancestors, is burnt inside the circle, then its ash remains swept up. I rarely see anyone actually drawing these so when I step out of our front gate & find them in the lane, they seem to me to be the work of spirits. It's hard to follow the seasons in Shanghai like I might at home, by watching the changes that nature brings. Here it's man-made signs that year in and year out announce the arrival of winter: these ghost circles, the lovely drifting scent on the air of a street vendor's sweet potatoes roasting in his portable 50 gallon drum oven...

1 comment:

  1. These are wonderful! What great surprises to find every morning when you go out.