Carol Cline

Living in Guangzhou for nearly a decade, I have seen Guangzhou develop from a city of flowers into a flower of a city.

I grew up in a small town in southwest Missouri. As a child, it was a hobby to pick wild flowers from the roadside ditches around our neighborhood. After gathering what I thought to be a beautiful bouquet, I would bring them home for display on our family table. On the first day of May, known as May Day, my brother and I would pick bouquets and place them on neighbors' doorsteps. We knocked on the doors as loudly as possible and ran around the corner as quickly as we could. We wanted to see the look on our neighbors' faces when they saw the beautiful arrangement we had prepared for them, without the awkward embarrassment of letting them know the surprise was from us. As I grew older, I realized these were not wild flowers found naturally around our small town, but the result of the hard work and effort of the people of Bolivar. Those living around me had made an effort to turn their yards into lovely miniature parks for the beauty and enjoyment of any who would cross their paths.

Guangzhou, like other large cities, is not without the hustle and bustle of commuters headed to work, the "music" that accompanies street cleaners, the clang of construction workers' hammers and mallets. The good news is in the midst of all this noise there is some sanctuary. Guangzhou has beautifully sculptured parks scattered throughout the city. These parks allow us to see the beauty of nature each time we enter the massive gates.

Although there are numerous parks in Guangzhou, I would like to specifically talk about the parks that I enjoy most. I know Guangzhou is famous for its Ram Statue in Yuexiu Park and its Martyrs found in Martyrs' Park, but my favorite park is located in the Zhujiang New Town. For those of you who have lived in Guangzhou for more than five years, you will remember a time before New Town was the place to be; even then Zhujiang Park was a great getaway from the rumbling city that now encloses it. The natural stream with the bubbling sounds of a waterfall has always been a refuge for me to take a break and relax. With the current walking trail that loops the perimeter of the park, it has also become a welcoming place to have an evening stroll at the end of the day, providing some much needed exercise. The flowers located within Zhujiang Park have been selected and put on display, so that each patron can be inspired by the flare of color, as well as the aroma of nature.

Paveways in Zhujiang Park

In addition to Zhujiang Park, I spend a lot of time at Sports Park located on Ersha Island. A group of expatriates gets together with an excellent trainer, Kara, of K2Fit to get and keep in shape. As I arrive on Ersha Island, I am struck by the vivid colors in the trees and flowers that are almost always in bloom in the sub-tropic climate of Guangzhou. Sports Park, which reminds me so much of home, has wide open fields to picnic, play catch, or maybe a game of tag with the kids. It also has soccer fields, basketball courts, exercise equipment, and a running track. So whether you are wanting to enjoy a little green or get a little exercise or perhaps a little of both, Sports Park is a great place to do it.

As a child living in a small town, I took for granted the colors around me. Now living in a cement forest, I am so glad someone had the presence of mind to plan an array of beauty for me. From the potted flowers along the streets to the blooming trees on Ersha Island, these touches of color are no longer taken for granted, but enjoyed at every possible opportunity. It is my hope that everyone who comes to what I now consider to be my city, would enjoy the food, the friendliness and the flower this city has blossomed into.

Royal Poinciana

(By Carol Cline)

Editor:Vita Lin
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