The long, cold, dry winter is quickly thrust aside as the weather warms almost overnight, and flowers burst open. This is not a slow, lazy spring. It’s wild, frantic, and overwhelming with buds bursting open at once. People begin to fill the square, the track at school is buzzing with kids hanging out, some running, but most simply grateful for the newly found warmth. This time is beautiful, but soon, far too soon, the catkins will begin to fall. As these blooms are spread throughout the city, it’s as if winter has come again, but without the chill. Snow falls in such extreme that at times, everything appears white.
With catkins, wind also picks up. The two are intricately connected and both work together to force us back inside. Coughing, hacking, little bits of white fluff get into everything. Tumbleweeds whip across the ground in a whirling dervish. There’s something soothing about watching them come together to engage in their annual dance. Catkin season lasts only a few weeks, but they are weeks engrained in every Beijinger’s memory. The magic of the snow that isn’t quite snow, the promises felt on the warm winds, and the disappointment of being forced back inside are simply a stepping stone as summer is soon to be ushered in.
**Curious to learn more about the Beijing “snow”?