Springtime is here, for real, at long last.
Heat in most (non-luxury) Beijing buildings was turned off on March 15. While we had a couple of warm days after that we've spent most of the last week with low temperatures, shivering in our apartments. I've been sleeping with my electric space heater on high, heavy wool socks on my feet and a second comforter on my bed.
Today, however, spring has sprung. I broke out a new linen shirt that I had seamstress make for me, based on another shirt that I brought from the U.S. last year, rode a bicycle to run an errand, then met a friend and her two young children for lunch at a hidden noodle bar for lunch, with the sunshine streaming through the window.
We don't know the name of the place, only that to enter it you need to go into an unmarked door off of a back alley, but the noodles were fresh and delicious, and mine came with eggplant and green peppers. Afterward, we went for iced tea and played with the children before taking a short walk in the sun.
Last week I bought several plants for the apartment, in an attempt to counter some small part of the pollution that I am breathing. A lavender plant and two small cacti for my bedroom, a lemon balm plan for the living room. By Wednesday the lemon balm was wilting. At first I thought it didn't like the cold so I brought it into my bedroom (I have a space heater going at night, since it's been quite cold for the last couple of weeks), but Thursday it was even worse. Ayi (cleaning woman) put it on the patio, but it still got worse. Yesterday I was showing it to my language tutor, who had seen it healthy and lush after i bought it, and realized that it was light. I watered it last week but apparently not enough. The poor thing was dry as a bone. I gave it a pitcher of water and by the time I got home from pizza and movie night at a friend's house it was looking much better. This morning it appeared back on the track to providing lots of leaves for lemon mint tea this season. I had to cull a bunch of leaves but I'm glad I managed to save it.