When I started studying Chinese years ago, we of course had to learn the vocabulary and phrases to describe leisure activities. You know, things like ‘watch TV’ (kan dianshi), ‘go shopping’ (mai dongxi), and ‘chat with friends’ (gen pengyou liaotianr). I was always intrigued that kan hongye (see the red leaves) was in the list of common leisure activities. “What do you like to do on weekends?” “I like to see the red leaves.” Apparently an ancient poet (most likely during the Tang Dynasty) wrote about the joy of seeing the red leaves on the hills outside of Beijing. Presto! It’s an activity. This time of year the leaves on a few trees actually do turn red in the Fragrant Hills Park outside Beijing, and 20 million residents fight their way out to see them. Gotta get out and kan hongye!
I’m not in Beijing at the moment, but I’ve sure had some great hongye viewing here in the US. On October 1 and 2, my mom, sister and I made a quick swing up along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Absolutely gorgeous!
This past week, after attending a conference in Boston, I took a day to drive around northern New Hampshire to kan hongye. Stunning!