Basi de Hen! 巴适的很!
an annual attempt to console ourselves, listed in no particular order
1. Winter produce. Roasted chestnuts, roasted yams, the variety of rapeseed known as hóng yóucài (红油菜), and clementines, for a start. I find that it's nice to not be able to get all produce at all times of the year, so when it does come into season, you really enjoy it. Sichuan's wintertime offerings are particularly enticing. Did you know that chestnuts are loaded with vitamin C, a peculiar trait for a nut?
2. Wintersweet (làméi/蜡梅 or 腊梅). It took two winters in Zongnan for me to realize where on earth the intoxicating scent that wafted through the neighborhood was coming from every time it got nippy outside. Turns out it's a bush particular to China, Chimonanthus praecox, that blooms only in the wintertime. Its tiny yellow blossoms smell like heaven, and if you buy some from a flower seller and take them home, you're guaranteed to enjoy the scent for days; even after the blooms have started to fade. Now it's become a Christmas tradition for us to have them in the house. Don't know what I'll do if we ever leave!
3. Bright, bright sunshiny days. Just like with produce, sometimes not having something just makes it better when you do get it. When the sun does come out in the middle of those long stretches of gloomy days, the whole city perks up, and the day just feels amazing. It's a nice sight to see. And did you know that in the United States, certain parts of sunny Florida have the country's highest rates of depression? So it's not like the sun is a cure-all for the blues, apparently.
4. Red underwear. As it's considered lucky around the time of the lunar New Year—especially if it's your animal year—red undies take over the supermarkets and lingerie shops starting around January. You can giggle all through your day imagining what everyone looks like in their crimson skivvies.
5. Being lazy. It's cold and yucky and therefore totally acceptable to stay in your apartment for days on end, in your pajamas on the couch bundled up with a blanket just watching DVDs. No questions asked. Under other circumstances, people would act like there's something wrong with you.