The massive typhoon that swept over the Philippines last weekend, killing dozens before heading towards Hong Kong, took a right turn as it neared the China coast and started moving up our way. We ended up with nothing worse than some gusty winds and heavy showers on Wednesday and Thursday, but it was a reminder that typhoon season is upon us and we need to get the house ready (especially since it will be sitting empty while we travel next month).
After a typhoon passes by we get to enjoy, with some guilt, unusally clear weather. The improved visibility is like having new eyes. The mountain that is the focal point of our view is reduced to a little pointy hill because there's no haze to give the impression of great distance (and therefore greater size). Bamboo groves stand out in sharp relief, leafy trees suddenly reveal the shape of their greenery, and the gilded temple behind us gleams and shows off its colors.
I talk about the weather a lot, I think because it is a barometer of my foreigness here. In Seattle I know what to expect; depending on the month, the hour, and the direction of the wind, the sky can take on many different shades (of grey), and I read them unconsciously. But here I am often caught by surprise, more so when I am indoors and don't have other clues to tell me the weather is changing. It's a matter of time, I suppose, and experience. The other day as I was washing dishes, I was startled to see a bright green butterfly flicker by my kitchen window. In a flash I realized it was no butterfly, but a leaf, caught up in a gust that sent it four stories high. Within the hour, wind was whistling through our windows and echoing mournfully in the stairwell. Green butterflies are now filed away as harbingers of a typhoon. Now if I could just get used to leaves falling in the spring.