Signs of Spring
Looking out of the window from where I sat at my desk, all I could see were rows and rows of tall apartment buildings, with not a blade of green between them. As to the empty lot beneath my window, for years it had been the dumping site of rusting iron bars left over from the construction of apartment buildings nearby. A desolate sight. The outside being devoid of color, I had no choice but to create some color indoors. I hung up green curtains in the living room, and covered the table with green table cloths. On the windowsill I put out the poinsettias that friends had given me and the bracketplant that my children had cultivated. In front of the oil painting of premier Zhou Enlai hanging on the wall, there was always a vase with roses, or chrysanthemums, or carnations. They were from the North Rose shop, which had contracted to supply me with flowers of the season every week. On the windowsill near my desk was a friend’s gift of a pot of orchids that had not yet flowered, or sometimes there would be a vase of roses. All those signs of green, or rather signs of spring, were makeshift compensations for the lack of green in general.
I thought of the empty lot beneath my building, the dumping site of rusting iron bars. I remember that with the coming of spring, blades of jade green grass would sprout between the iron bars. When the rains come, they would grow at a furious pace and overwhelm the rusting iron bars. Even iron could not keep down the force of bubbling life itself. By now the iron bars have been removed, and it is said that the empty lot will be planted with flowers. But in the chill of early spring, my expectations were just as dull and listless.
A few days ago, however, I was disturbed by sounds of laughter wafted through the window. I looked out of the window, and what do I see but groups of young men and women; they were students clearing out the empty lot! The girls were in colorful woolen sweaters and downcoat, the boys in khaki or dark colored clothes. Tools in hand, they were digging and shoveling while others raised an iron fence on the outskirts of the lot. Hopefully, the empty plot in front of our building will be turned into a beautiful garden of green shades and multi-colored flowers, all through the handiwork of these young people…
The sky outside is overcast, but the groups of young people are still busy at their work. The heating in the apartment has been turned off today, and I had to replace my sweater with a cotton-padded jacket. But my heart is suffused with warmth because I have seen the signs of spring.