A handful of years ago, my man and I moved to the Shandong Province in China to teach at an international school. As I've mentioned before, life in the city was a challenge for us nature lovers, so getting away when we could was crucial to our well being. The foggy days and arrival of pumpkins on peoples' doorsteps got me to thinking about an October journey we took to the village of Zhujiayu.
Zhujiayu is one of the oldest intact villages in the province, dating back over 600 years to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. The village is a mix of old and new, with crumbling ruins of mud-packed brick and stone buildings alongside more modern, yet humble, brick homes. The cobbled stone lanes wind through the village, inviting you to wander and explore. It feels almost like stepping back in time as you take in the ancient carvings over doorways and windows, and see the heavy stone mills still being used to process grains. Trees grow up through the center of old homes and crops are often planted inside the remaining walls like a carpet.
While it seems much of the younger population has left the village, the older folks are still thriving - foraging for local fruits, drying their crops of corn, selling a few vegetables, visiting with friends, and humoring the tourists that come to visit their quaint home. If I could, I'd transport myself back there on this foggy October day and perhaps join them for a warming cup of tea.
p.s. You may have noticed that the woman in the photo wearing a grey jacket has bound feet. She is likely one of the last remaining women in China to have endured this practice.