Daxing Rose Festival

The agricultural corner of Bejing, in its fifth ring road, Daxing, is known for several specialities: roses and watermelon, and since the cookbook fair and awards event was held in late May, the roses and melons were growing lushly. In fact, at every meal there were wedges of watermelon, usually red but sometimes yellow, always sweet, crisp and juicy, the question really was: HOW SWEET, HOW JUICY, HOW CRISP? There were meals in which the melons exceeded the laws of physics in their sweetness, juiciness and crispness. It was actually thrilling to bite into the melons and see what would happen next. Even when they were  merely okay, they were refreshingly delicious. We’ll get to the watermelons in the next posting.

First off was the Rose Festival.  The bus, organized by Daxing’s equivilant of the chamber of commerce or perhaps the city council, arrived at 10 am for those of us who wanted to play hooky from the cookbook fair and be a part of the festivities. I may have been first on the bus; I love roses.

All visitors to the Rose Festival were greeted with great festivities, both on our way in, and on our way out: there were acrobats, kung-fu demonstrations, and a gathering of drum players–two long lines of gaily costumed women enthusiastically banging on big drums ushered us down a long walkway and into the hall of flowers.  

Traditional caligraphy and brushstroke demonstrations depicted roses, a garden of rose drawings.

And there was a fashion show of rose-inspired gowns and frocks…..below left, you can see each model (in the sweltering summer heat) carrying the flower arrangement that had inspired her dress.  I sat on the side and could see backstage, where, in true catwalk style, the  fashion designer, flitting about backstage all a-twitter, nervously fluffing up and patting down, getting his models looking  their best in his designs.

I don’t know when i’ve ever seen such enthusiasm for a task such as these women showed for playing their drums: it was hard, and energetic, and the weather was hot, and they were drumming for all they were worth. Their presentation was awesome in more ways than I can try to explain: it sounded wonderful and stirring; and the looks on the women’s faces was heart-warming. It was love, the love of doing something well and all-encompassing. The love on the faces of all performers.

When I showed an interest, I was surrounded by “teachers”

Here I am getting a lesson in drumming from the gals

my teacher was very enthusiastic. and scary.

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