SUNDAY, Jan 29, 2006
It's the Chinese Lunar New Year, and it's the Year of the Dog (woof woof - - that's me!)
Gung Hai Fat Choy. Good Fortune to you!
I took advantage of a break in the steady downpour to go down to Chinatown this morning to watch the Chinese New Year parade. We have an enormous Chinese population here in my city, dating back to the turn of the century when Chinese workers came here to find their fortune working on the railway, and increasing the population during the hand-over of Hong Kong when a great many people immigrated here. And I'm certain most of them were present at the parade. A huge, pressing crowd and not much crowd control. Everyone was right on the road so there was barely enough room for the parade to pass and it was difficult to see much when you're a short person like me. I did find a step to stand up on and managed to see the tops of the performers. Lots of lion dancers and dragons, colourful banners and costumes. Drums booming, cymbals and gongs clashing, firecrackers exploding, confetti falling down in a rain of colour. It was fun. For the first time I noticed the bunches of lettuce that hung in shop doorways, good luck if the lion comes and snatches it. A lot of people were wearing red, the good luck colour. That last two nights when I went out I wore my embroidered scarlet Chinese jacket to celebrate 'my' year!
While watching the parade I recalled some events of the past. When I was supervisor of a Pre School in East Van, there was a little Chinese boy named Winston who absolutely loved the lion dance and would make his entry into the preschool with great dramatic pounces and snarls. On Chinese New Year we made a papier mache lion's head and decorated it with crepe paper and a colourful cloth body. Winston got to be the lion's head and performed for us with his little friends participating as the 'body'. It was always great fun.
And for the year I worked as an English teacher at an all Chinese daycare in Chinatown, this was a very important holiday celebration with the traditional foods being served and the lion dance performed in the gym area.
It's been a couple of years since I went down for the parade, and I'm glad I went. The rain held off until the end, started up just when I got home again. The bus was crowded with people coming home from the parade, carrying their little Chinese doo-dads and red paper envelops and banners. A very festive mood prevailed.
And good fortune has already begun to happen for me this week. It's a great start for the Lunar New Year. Yippidy yap yap!
***I guess I should also remember all the dog's I've owned: From when I was a small child, a black and white Border Collie, Flossie; Then a spanial named Dutchess who unfortunately got run over by a truck shortly after we moved to the Coast; she was replaced by another Spanial, Judy, who got sent away to doggie prison for biting the postman. After that, there were various bigger dogs: Taffy, a golden Lab; Chinook, a Samoyed-Lab cross who loved pulling and competing in dog-sled races; Tiny a Terrier-Poodle; and my beloved collection of prize-winning Yorkies: Candy, Fiona, Brandy and dear wee Megan who died tragically when she suddenly jumped out of my son's arms; Tippy, the hippy dog, a Border Collie; and last but never forgotten my adorable little Terri-Poo Sappho (Saffy) who was adopted by my Aunt Grace when I went to live in Greece and lived the rest of her life in doggie luxury.
I adore dogs, but now I live in an apartment and travel so often I can't keep one. But there's always my friend's cute little mini Pom, Niki, who I love to doggie-sit.