I always enjoy the festivities that accompany Chinese New Year—firecrackers, dancing lions, special food items such as turnip cake—but there is one feature of the season that I look forward to each year that is entirely coincidental yet perfectly appropriate. This is the time of year when a particular creeper bursts into flower—and when discussing the firecracker vine, ‘bursts’ is not a hyperbolic descriptor.
See for yourself. I’ve included typical examples below that I’ve photographed in the last week or so during my cycling trips around the New Territories. I encountered the first two examples on the ride I call ‘the final frontier’ the weekend before last. The second example can be seen opposite the entrance to ‘the zoological garden’.
I could not have failed to notice either of the above examples, but last Sunday I was on the same ride when I happened to glance to my right just as I passed an inconspicuous alleyway:
I took the following photo along the frontier road last week. The display was only just visible through a gap in the otherwise thick foliage. I couldn’t get any closer.
Last Friday, I took Paula to check out a challenging ride that I’d discovered a few weeks previously. I photographed this splendid example at the start of ‘surprise view’:
I encountered the next two examples on Monday while exploring new possibilities that I could add to the long and winding road:
Also on Monday, my explorations meant that I eventually returned to Fanling via a new narrow path that brought me back into town in an area west of the railway with which I was not familiar. Consequently, I found considerable difficulty in navigating the maze of cycling tracks, until I finally reached somewhere I recognized—the Tsz Tak Study Hall, which I walk past on the long way home. However, there are parts of the long way home that are not suitable for bikes, so I was forced to take an even more circuitous route that led me through the area featured in South Side Story, where I took the following photo:
I’ve cheated with the final photo, which is of my neighbour’s firecracker vine. This photo was taken five years ago, but he has since subjected his vine to what I can only describe as ‘injudicious pruning’, and the display has been poor for the last couple of years.