Little Cabbage Mountains
On the other hand Orlando Jones was sad when the heaps of Chinese cabbages disappeared from the sidewalks. One day, perhaps in late Autumn, when she had been on her way to Hangzhou Rd., she had seen a pile of cabbages spread out on the edges of a raised flower bed in Jiefang Lu. She thought, at the time, that perhaps they belonged to a market vendor although they were not actually in any market and no one appeared to be attending the vegetables. To her surprise these mounds of cabbages began appearing overnight all over the city sidewalks. The sidewalks of Jinzhou were wide to accommodate parking, playing mah jong and hanging laundry. At first these cabbage mounds were few in number and then they proliferated rapidly. She was delighted. Later, she discovered that the cabbages were drying, to be salted (pickled) in vats and stored for the winter. She had already guessed as much. The young (modern) people of Jinzhou said that one could buy pickled cabbage in the supermarket and besides China had glasshouses in order to provide year round fresh vegetables. Nevertheless, Orlando Jones loved the little cabbage mountains.
In early December (or later - Orlando Jones didn't remember the date but knew it was a Wednesday because she had no lectures) it really snowed. Orlando Jones realised at once that her last proclamation that it "really snowed" was a misrepresentation of a winter in North-east China. This time (which she now designated the first real snow of winter) it had snowed during the night and when she awoke there was already an eight centimetre quilt - white, crisp and crunchy - over everything. This was a day for playing in the snow. It continued to fall until about 2pm. At that time the students began shovelling and the staff of the Foreign Affairs Office, the Japanese teacher, Orlando Jones, and the Japanese students went out to play in the thick, new snow. Orlando Jones remembered wondering idly if the shovelling of snow was voluntary or not. It seems well organised. Orlando Jones forget about this long before the party arrived at the river. All ten of them piled into pedicabs outside the South gate and conducted conversations with each other from one pedicab to another. This incited the pedicab riders to race. This was great fun for the occupants and, Orlando Jones wished hopefully, for the pedicab riders. At the least it would keep them warm for a while. Pedalling a pedicab in winter couldn't possibly bring much joy.
They arrived at the River Park and it was white. The river was completely frozen and many people were playing on it. There was no skating that day as there was too much snow on the ice. The party went ice-vehicling instead. Orlando Jones's Chinese friends at least translated the Chinese word as "ice vehicle" or ice car". These were little toboggan like arrangements - little metal frame chairs with a carpeted seat welded onto a base frame with runners. One sat on the little seat with a pair of long metal spikes (like giant ice picks) with wooden handles on one end and sharpened points on the other. Then one dug the end of the ice picks into the surface of the ice and pulled back on them while propelling one's body forward. The little ice vehicle shot forward over the frozen water. It was a bit like ski-ing on a flat surface, sitting down. The toboggan was controlled as one would row a boat - by applying less pressure on the offside ice pick for steering right or left. For stopping one either collided with someone else (an involuntary stop) or mostly just put one's feet out and hoped for the best. Later, while crossing an open expanse in the park, Orlando Jones and her friends had a comic snowball fight. As weapons, the snowballs were incredibly ineffective and inaccurate. They had hot popcorn and warm milk drinks in a café and pedicab raced back to campus. The students were still shovelling. That evening, Orlando Jones learned that the shovelling was not voluntary. She vowed to shovel snow next time. It did not snow again that winter.