Surrounded by rolling cornfields, Huanzidong (“Badger Hole”) Reservoir is located nearly two hours NNW of Shenyang and would be just another unremarkable impoundment if not for one very remarkable fact: it is the premier migratory corridor rest stop in NE China for the critically endangered Siberian Crane.
One morning this past October I returned to Grebe Lake for some much needed serenity. With my binoculars on my chest, new scope and tripod over my right shoulder, folding stool hanging on my left shoulder, and thermos full of fresh black coffee tucked under my left arm I happily strolled down the path to the best scoping spot. The weather was perfect – a crisp, clear, sunny Autumn morning.
Arriving at the scope spot, I quickly scanned the lake with my binoculars (as expected, lots of grebes!) and then busied myself with getting the scope and stool situated at a comfortable height and mutual distance.
Throughout these short few minutes I was dimly aware of noise in the background but it wasn’t until I had finished setting up and poured myself a cup of coffee that I stopped to properly consider the source.
A few moments’ focus revealed the tell-tale bangs, clangs, and whirrrrrs of a dump truck… a DUMP TRUCK!
The other day I had an hour to pass in a spartan waiting room while my phone was being repaired. As a last resort, I grabbed the local paper and started flipping through it. My disinterest was soon overcome by sheer delight as my eyes lit upon a ridiculous, deadpan, and utterly charming article entitled “Meteorite atop Star Village’s mountain comes from Earth!” Herein I’ve translated it for your enjoyment:
(originally composed in 2014 August)
In June we moved from the far western side of Shenyang in the Technological Development Zone to the far eastern side of Shenyang in the Scenic Forest Zone. Even though doing so means my total work commute has skyrocketed from 10 minutes a day to 120, the new location is a huge quality of life net positive for our family. Whereas our old apartment was surrounded by factories, our new house is surrounded by forests. Though we suffer from the same general air quality problems as the rest of China, the air on this side of Shenyang is measurably cleaner than back at our old place. The neighborhood is also much safer and more pleasant to live in.
Poking around on Google Earth one day I noticed a small lake only a few kilometers from our house. I say noticed because though I had driven down the road running past the lake many times, due to the thickness of the surrounding woodlands I had no idea there was a lake located only meters away.