Sweet Little Angel: Wuhan, China: July 9 and 10, 2008

July 9th

July 9th

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Wuhan; it’s about six-thirty in the morning. I got up at four, made some coffee and played guitar on the terrace, overlooking the campus and part of East Lake. I bought an acoustic guitar on Monday; I was practicing all year and didn’t want to stop. It has been raining here a lot accompanied by some great thunderstorms with lightning striking horizontally like magnificent chicken claws and vertically like sudden rivers slashing the sky. As it became light, I thought I saw pebbles on the tiles, but the pebbles were moving slowly, and as it got lighter, as I suspected, snails with brown shells appeared from the dark, and I being a little bit like the Chinese, who will eat just about anything, wondered how they would taste sautéed in a skillet with some garlic, chives and butter. I picked one up and it tried of course to retreat inside its swirled little house though its moist thick body couldn’t quite make it all the way in. “Don’t worry,” I said and put it back on the tiles happy to watch it go along.

July 9th

July 9th

July 9th

July 9th
July 10th

Early this morning, leaving to jog, I locked my room and realized I still had my glasses on. I don’t like to exercise wearing glasses, unlocked the door, went back in, put my hotel key down, took a sip of water as if that were what I’d intended, and left again with my glasses still on and my key locked inside the room. It was five AM. I hid my glasses behind a flowerpot and went out to the track to jog.

Five AM is still dark in Wuhan. More and more people appear with the light. There were some of the same faculty from last year exercising and everybody had smiles and hellos. That was nice. I was glad to see the blind man with the big fan walking around the track with his wife holding hands. I waved and she waved back. Some things haven’t changed though the old couple that did Tai Chi for the last two years haven’t appeared and I wonder about them. I hope they’re all right.

I returned to the hotel with the sun coming up over the big clock of the Humanities Building and, not wanting to wake the maid (let her sleep), sat sweating hearing on my iPod Roosevelt Sykes sing a song I wasn’t expecting called Calcutta. Surprised and enchanted, I listened, and when the maid let me back in, sat down with my new guitar playing along feeling great getting the rhythm.

Roosevelt sings:

I got a sweet little baby
Sweeter than apple butter
I got a sweet little baby
Sweeter than apple butter
She’s a long gone chick
She dropped in from Calcutta

I’m not sure what long gone chick means in its fifties blues jive bee bop but in my head I comfortably changed it to

Just flew in
All the way from Calcutta.

And I changed baby to sweet little angel too to go with the flying. If I hadn’t forgotten my key this morning, I wouldn’t be here adding a stanza of Hari Krishna (thank you George Harrison) and another about the weather:

It’s been raining all morning
Hour after hour
It’s been raining all morning
Hour after hour
You can hold me, honey
I’ll be your umbrella

July 9th

July 9th

It’s raining a gentle rain coming down gently on all the bushes. Where have the butterflies gone? They must be under their umbrellas. In a few days classes will begin and I won’t have all this leisure to write things down. The last hour has been how the world should be, peaceful calm creativity. The rain’s stopped. The sun’s coming out. The blue and green butterflies have put away their umbrellas and return to the bushes outside. Perhaps my wash hanging on the terrace will finally dry.

July 9th

July 9th

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