Monday, 21 March 2016

the fall

The fall is my favourite season here in Hong Kong, but to avoid confusing my American readers, I should point out that your name for autumn, while perfectly suitable as a way to describe the time of year when the leaves fall from the trees in your country, is totally inappropriate here in Hong Kong, because leaves are falling from the trees now. They didn’t in autumn. I imagine that this is an effect of the territory’s subtropical climate, because photosynthesis is possible throughout the winter, and the only reason they fall in autumn in temperate climates is because trees there go into hibernation in order to survive the winter.

To illustrate my point, I took the following three photographs yesterday morning while walking from my home to Fanling railway station:

In describing the fall as my favourite season, there is an unmentioned caveat: the transition from winter to spring is marked by a period of about three weeks when the humidity is so high that all our windows steam up, and condensation forms on our stone and tile floors and runs down the tiled walls of our kitchen and bathroom. However, once this admittedly grim period is over, the birds start singing and wildflowers pop up all over the place. Actually, thanks to the influence of El NiƱo this winter, birds have been singing since the start of the year—magpie robins have been in full voice since Christmas, apart from a period of a few days in late January when the intense cold shut them up. I heard one as early as 8th December, even though in a normal year they would just be starting now!

There is another negative aspect to this time of year, one that most people will not be aware of: all the leaves in the above photos will have been swept up by lunchtime and stuffed into black plastic sacks, which I have no issue with. However, these sacks will eventually end up in landfill. Nobody in Hong Kong appears to have heard of composting!

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