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ursus maritimus

"passionate and serene, profound and simple, affectionate and proud, subtle and straightforward"

Baltimore is snowing again.

It’s already March. Friends in my home country starts to spread the news of spring. I could even see the flowers in the southern China blooming, while the poplar in the north starting to sprout. The spring festival is over, the pesants are plowing and sowing in their lands, migrant workers stepping onto the trains to go back to the cities. Even the swallows are flying back to the north to start a new year. In a word, this is the moment you’ll wave goodbye to the past year and “March” on.

Nevertheless, in Baltimore, almost everyday after Februry, when I walk out my apartment I see only a world of floating snow flakes.

I do like the snow in my home country. The winter in Beijing often lasts for months without precipitation, which makes the weather extraordinarily dry. But every time there is a snow, some nice humid days would follow. I was always eagerly expecting snow when I was in Beijing, but my hope was rarely fulfilled.

When I just arrived in Baltimore, I thought the weather here is similar to that of Beijing – only to find this place is actually much more humid in winter. As January approaches, the snow just keeps going on. Before the remaining snow melt, the next one follows in a hasty manner. In the end, the snow pile up on the road side, growing into small hills, even burying the benches reserved for the pedestrian.

My father said to me, “Doesn’t the snow make the weather more humid? Just cheer up”. But I can’t.

I carefully smell the air. Back in my home country, the snow-soaked air could only be described by the Chinese word “清冷柔软”(clear, cool and soft), but here, it is nothing more than the chill. It feels like you are so used to the rich and slightly sweet flavor of DianHong tea (the tea produced in “Dian”, i. e. Yunnan Province in China), but one day you suddenly find out the only option left for tea is the astringent Lipton.

Weeks ago on some day I just finished my lunch, and was drinking tea beside the window of the common area in Hackerman Hall, when I saw two canaries deftly bouncing on the thin branches. The branches trembled for the tiny creature, even shook off the accumulating snow. I stood behind the thick double-layer insulated window, and I couldn’t hear their joyful songs – but yet I could see the proud looks in their eyes.

I started to worry that one day I may see their frozen bodies in the snow piles on the road side. But several days passed, instead of seeing the corps, there are actually more canaries on the branches. Outside the shabby window of my apartment, there are also, gradually, chirps in the early morning. I often stand on the heating radiator to look at them, consuming my breakfast bread at the same time. Sometimes, I also take down some tiny pieces of bread, and place them on the space under the branches as if I carelessly dropped them.

Although I prefer them to fly far away to warmer places, I still hope they would often come over, foraging and chatting.

Because when I see them in the floating snow flakes, I know the spring in my home country is quietly sprouting here in Baltimore.

March 7th before dawn
University West Apartment