There are frogs everywhere. Every day we see little peepers walking along the edge of the road that leads to the kindergarten (we counted 18 once). Our goldfish pond is full of tadpoles and has had several sets of them over the past 5 or 6 weeks. Every morning and evening we hear the big frogs outside the apartment. They serenade us with songs that vary by species. I particular like listening to them late at night and feel that the crickets back in Vermont will seem a little less musical in comparison to my amphibian friends.
The return to Vermont will result in the loss of abundant, inexpensive and delicious tropical fruit. Thus, I am devouring it now. I never tire of little fresh bananas, tiny mangoes the size of a plum with only the thinnest sliver of a seed that are perfect for eating on the go and gargantuan mangoes the size of a melon that, once cut, provide cube after cube of sweet, juicy goodness. There is a fruit, I don’t know what it is called, with a purple woody outside that you tear away to reveal little white sections that taste delicious. What will we do without longan fruit (a.k.a dragon eyes), dragon fruit, durien (a.k.a. stink fruit), and of course, lychees (which must be in season because just today we were given 2 gift boxes of about 5 lbs each)? Fortunately we arrive home at the height of berry season. My hankering for tropical fruit will be remedied somewhat by some fresh, wild raspberries although, in order to avoid the sticker shock, I suspect I will have to walk into Sabin’s pasture to pick my own.
We have started letting friends know that we are leaving. It turns out this is a difficult subject. Many of the friends we have made through the kindergarten did not understand that we are here for only one academic year. Folks will frequently say things like, “Oh, you should stay another year” and “Why don’t you like it here?” My conversation with Wang Shu Li (of cooking lesson fame) went something like this (but in Chinese):
Me: We are going back to the US on June 17.
WSL: Really? How long are you going for?
Me: I don’t understand. We are going back.
WSL: When will you be back in Guangzhou?
Me: We will not come back.
WSL: (looking shocked and near tears) Why?
Me: We came to China for only 10 months. For work.
WSL: But in August I was going to take you to Shanghai for the expo. Do you have time?
Me: Sorry. We don’t have time.
WSL: Did you buy your plane tickets?
WSL: Can you change them?
Me: No. Sorry. We are sad to leave.
And then it moves on to make dinner plans and how she will cook our favorite foods for us to eat during the trip and what presents the girls would like and when we might come back for a visit. The whole thing is really sad. The Shanghai thing is a big deal, too. Wang Shu Li has never left Guangdong province.