What lengths will one go to meet new friends in China?
Ten point seven kilometers.
I am not a runner but I pretend to be one to meet new faces. For instance, yesterday, my hiking group, I met guy who hand-glided in Nepal, a Parisian who spent seven months cycling from France to Kunming, a British guy with tips on traveling to Tibet and three smokers with a pack and a half a day habit who could run faster than I could walk.
Plus, I met a tree.
Let’s rewind a few kilometers.
We ventured up Kunming’s Yu’an Mountain but I call it Bamboo mountain because it’s home of the Qiongzhu Temple or the BambooTemple. The temple got its name from a legend involving rhinos, two brothers and a group of wandering monks.
The temple was at the halfway point up the mountain. Yes, we were still going up. The crisp air was a blend of incense and pine as the Monks recited prayers wearing fur caps similar to the ones the guards wore in the Wizard of Oz, Our cameras were not flashing as it is not proper to take photos of these things. We continued up the mountain which was slightly less steep than Mt. Everest, following rugged trails and old stone paths.
At the top of the hill was a pine tree stretching its fingers to the sky. Yes, pine or 松树 or sōngshù.
It was placed there like a flag on top of Mt. Everest. Did the wind blow an orphan seed there? I mean, considering the legend of the temple, you think it would be bamboo.
I started thinking about a book I just read, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. According to Peter, a forester in Germany, trees talk to each other. No, not like the evil trees throwing rotten apples at Dorothy, but trees communicate through smell and through electric impulses sent through their roots and with the help of fungus in the soil. The friends talk about where to find food, the danger of diseases and bugs. They can recognize their offspring and seldom live alone.
Then I wondered, can a tree die of loneliness?
The book didn’t answer that.
Then I wondered why they sold a paper version of the book about trees. Wouldn’t that be murdering the main character of the book to make the pages?
Maybe that’s why the tree was alone.
Or maybe the thin oxygen was getting to me because I realized that the one tree was actually two trees.
Just about then, a few Chinese cyclists passed by. I don’t even think they were sweating.
We made it down the mountain where we were greeted by a group of local woman making shoes and sharing stories.
My fit bit app said I walked over 14,000 steps. The muscles in my calves disagree.
But I did make some friends, none with leaves or needles, just a lot of good stories.