A Japanese White-eye slammed into our window this week. He was alive, breathing really hard, but otherwise totally still. I was afraid he'd broken his neck, but after 20 minutes or so he flew off, so I guess he was just shaken up. They're very pretty birds, quite small, and they do have a lovely song.
Speaking of song, we were awakened at 6:30 this morning by a temple parade: gongs, horns, drums, wailing voices – all of it being broadcast from the back of a truck so we wouldn't miss a note. Firecrackers punctuated the music. Big ones. This month has been unusually active for the local temple – they've strung up red lanterns, a couple miles' worth, all along our road, to mark which areas fall under their jurisdiction. This is for the benefit of roaming spirits, I believe, not just for us foreigners in the neighborhood. The next nearest temple had something going on today, too, so it could be a Taoist, island-wide thing, or something local. I wish I had more insight into those goings-on. I will have to ask my Chinese teacher to shed some light on it.
We had an outing today to the aboriginal (Paiwan tribe) village of Santimen (pronounced "san-DEE-mun"). This is my fourth trip to visit the bead shop there, but every time I go there's something new to look at, and the drive into the hills is refreshing in its own right. There are beautiful pieces of jewelry to buy, which I did, but the main reason we went was for the DIY beadmaking craft. It's a bargain: for NT$200 (about $6.00 US) you get to make your own large glass bead, then choose accent beads and have it made into a bracelet or necklace right before your eyes. The kids both made necklaces; Nora's is a gift for someone (I won't ruin the surprise), and Cole made a "pearl of great bravery" for himself. The beads all carry meaning within the tribe, and were worn like badges, proof of someone's experience or character. They were originally made from clay, but have been translated into glass. I'm sure we'll go again soon. Tim hasn't been yet, and just this evening a friend said, "Oh, let me know next time you go...." Maybe next weekend. Let me know if you want to tag along.