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  • Writer's pictureHannah

Suzhou Summer Sizzler

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

The sweat has dried off just enough to enable typing without drowning the keys. It's time for another sizzling Suzhou summer with daily 90 per cent humidity saturation and 'feels like 43 degrees' temperatures. We cope by avoiding midday outdoor heat, finding opportunities for water submersion and taking heed of our UTI symptoms, (probably too much running, not enough hydration). Aside from UTIs, a ripped-off toe nail; (Emily) and an infected spider bite abscess; (Gideon), we have been quite healthy. I somehow forget that the blazing Suzhou summer is twinned with electrifying storms and river- erupting monsoons. Gideon can take or leave a storm, but for Emily, the fear is real and she was inconsolable for the 45 minutes of merciless torrential rain we experienced yesterday at precisely the same time we had organised a large group BBQ booking! Thankfully there was an indoor back up plan.

Most of our expat friends are off on their China travels, to places like Sanya in the South (the best China beaches), Guilin (with the beautiful mountains) or Bejing, Xi'an or Chengdu (where the pandas are). We are trying not to feel too envious as due to reasons beyond our worldly comprehension, we couldn't travel out of our province this summer (more details on that later, once we have a clearer picture of what's going on). But we do know who holds the future and that in the present we are to expect painful trials (1 Peter 4.12) and that the testing of our faith produces perseverance (James 1.3). So we try to focus on the present.

Similar to last summer, we have been organising a culture and language exchange programme, a fortnightly gathering where we have taken a turn at leading and presenting about our home town or a topic of interest. Last week our Japanese friend hosted a tea ceremony. As a participant, it was important to bow before and after the ceremony, to eat and drink until instructed to do so, take note of the pattern on the tea cup and make a big slurping sound after finishing the drink.

Gideon and Emily had a week at camp at another international school last week. Emily's first words most days: "I don't want to go to camp, I didn't sign up for this!" But she actually had a good time overall. Mike and I made the most of not having children quite well with steep, pathless hikes, long runs and cycles, (Mike) and a trip to Shanghai in search of art (Hannah). ( There was no art actually, we were a little misinformed).

Michael has been happy that his sustainability group lead has arrived from Oz recently, (he is also a keen trail runner).So he is looking forward to having a bit more support in the area of global citizenship and sustainability next year. I have been enjoying being a part of some art and design and sewing projects. I designed a water bottle label (inspired by a photo from my friend Lisa) and digitally simulated by my friend Freya). Sale profits go towards enhancing Suzhou Parkrun. Sewing projects have included creating pouches to contain sustainable sanitary products for ladies in Nepalese villages ( brilliant idea- guess what everyone's getting for christmas this year)! We have also been sewing 'share bears' to raise funds for hospital bills.

Although we are missing the emerald isle, (just the emerald parts) and friends and family, we look forward to a joyful reunion one day! Now, time for some shut eye if we are to wake up at 3 am to watch England beat Italy in the Euro cup!

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