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June 21, 2004

Local Weather Report

We have now been here during winter and spring and we're heading into summer, so this is a good time to tell you about the weather.

I think we made it pretty obvious that winter was not fun. It's actually warmer than Kansas City, but it's also very damp, and it's impossible to get really warm because no one here turns the heat on indoors. I hate having to wear long underwear all the time and I really hate having to keep my hat, coat and gloves on when I'm indoors. Try eating in a restaurant that way! It just takes all the fun out of everything.

Spring is an entirely different proposition. You can't believe how beautiful it is. For one thing, there are flowers everywhere. Azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, flowering shrubs and trees of all kinds, and, most of all, roses. Roses are not just for gardens here. Big masses of red, pink, yellow, coral, and peach-colored roses (not white, for some reason) are just everywhere. The most striking thing is that they are planted in huge beds on both sides of all the major streets. The spring weather is equally lovely - pleasantly warm all day and pleasantly cool at night. There were a couple of thunderstorms that were real humdingers, but usually the rain just comes in nice showers and mostly at night.

We are getting into summer now, and now I really can tell how close Nantong is to the ocean. It hasn't really been ghastly hot (although everyone tells us to expect that in July and August), but the humidity is something else! There is this thick blanket of hazy fog that just hangs over the city, and when we go outside, it's like walking into a steambath. We are running the air conditioners in our apartment now mostly because of the humidity. Oddly, the fog seems to reflect sunlight in all directions, so the glare is pretty uncomfortable too. Sunglasses are a must. Norty finds this all very pleasant. He likes heat. Yours truly is getting a bit uncomfortable, but still coping.

As most of you know, we will be back in the States for a couple of weeks in July. I am really looking forward to the visit. I'm quite happy here, but I've missed everyone so much. And two weeks of no Chinese food will be wonderful. I like Chinese food just fine. The problem is, it's all there is here. In America we get so used to being able to have just about any kind of food whenever we like. Italian, Mexican, Thai, Ethiopian, Greek, Middle Eastern - you name it, we've got it. Here, it's just variations on the same thing. I have found a place where I can get Western-style groceries, so I can make some non-Chinese things at home, but there's always something missing. For instance, I haven't been able to find tahini anywhere and spices like cumin are not to be found, either. It is possible to make something that tastes a lot like hummus without tahini and cumin, but it's not quite right. When we're home, I plan to buy a lot of herbs, spices, flavorings and things like tahini to ship back to China.

See you next month!
Terry

Posted by now at June 21, 2004 12:32 AM