How are the Roads?

For centuries (maybe millennia), a common way for people in China to greet each other has been to ask a simple question: “have you eaten yet?”

When I lived in China’s northeast region (“dongbei”), it seemed that every chance meeting or new conversation began with “leng bu leng?” Are you cold?

We are now in the grip of a winter in Minnesota and I’ve noticed that most conversations begin with some variation of “how are the roads?”


This afternoon they weren’t great, thanks to a powdery snowfall that made for some slippery driving.

So, remember, should you happen to meet a Minnesotan, be sure to ask, “how are the roads?”

Image credit: by Ruin Raider, via Flickr

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Death of a Snow Bank

Here in Minnesota, we mark the turning from winter to spring by monitoring the death of the snow banks that surround us. When they are at their highest, we wonder if they will ever melt. It seems unlikely. But the days get longer, and sun gets warmer, and even the biggest ones eventually succumb.

This year I decided to chronicle the death of “Mount Gracewood,” the giant snow bank that stood guard in the ‘hood for so long. Today, even after 3 inches of new snow on Thursday, she finally gave up the ghost.

At it's peak, on February 21, 2014

At it’s peak, on February 21, 2014

March 30, 2014

March 30, 2014

April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014


April 10, 2014

April 10, 2014

April 12, 2014

April 12, 2014

April 19, 2014

April 19, 2014

An hour later she was gone…until November, that is!


Noel and I both love to take pictures, but she also loves to organize and edit her photos right away. She is posting them on a special Shutterfly site as we go along.  Please click on over if you want to see lots more pics of our trip.

On that site, you will also find maps of where we have been/are going, and some of the old photos from Esther’s albums that we are using for inspiration and guidance.

In the meantime, here’s a photo from our trip up to the top of Emei Mountain this morning. We got as far as the parking lot below the cable car, but the path up was too steep and snow-covered. As we were going up the mountain, our friend told us that there is a saying that at the foot of the Emei Mountain, it is summer; halfway up, it is fall; and at the top it is winter. We had no idea how true that was.

Instead of going to the top, we took a long walk along the closed road.