Good morning and greetings, NBA fans. Well, the weather, much like my vertical leap, has changed, as fall is in the air. Here on the central coast, we really don’t get the spectacular fall folliage colors one finds in New England or Colorado, where the aspen trees turn the mountainsides into Goldie Hawn. So today, we are going to discuss this fall classic with the help of writer Debra Byrd, the founder of earthsky.org.
Now I am very connected to the Chinese way of thinking and ordering. Whether it’s spring rolls, chow fun or anything driving along the sweet and sour highway, I’m down with the program. The Chinese were great students of nature and lobster sauce. Autumn is connected in Chinese thought with the direction west, considered to be the direction of dreams, visions and Pleasant Hawaiian vacations.
In the Chinese tradition, the autumn season is associated with the color white, much like today’s Tea Party. This also includes the Beatles White album, the sound of weeping, the Sound of Music, the emotions of both courage and sadness, Smokey Robinson’s “I Second That Emotion,” a white tiger and Kobe Bryant, who’s the “Black Mamba.”
To the Chinese, nature means more than just the cycling of the seasons. Nature is within us and around us, in all things. We know it’s part of Chinese culture to maintain and add to ancient wisdom as with new entrees to old menus.
In contrast, we in the western world tend to replace old ideas with new ideas, like “Law & Order” with “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” So although our western way of thinking encourages advances in things like technology, economics and super-sized meals, the Chinese understanding of natural cycles remains far deeper than ours, like the deep frying one does in preparation of crab rangoon.
Here’s an easy lesson on the Chinese way of thinking about nature, its cycles and black bean sauce. We all experience the fact that things sprout and begin to grow in the spring along with the NBA playoffs. They ignite or bloom in the summer with baseball and reach completeness in late summer with the beginning of NFL football. They begin to dry and wither in autumn at the time of the World Series. They rest in winter during college basketball. In ancient Chinese thought, these five seasons or five ‘phases’ include an inherent understanding that the cycle continues endlessly just like the 24 hours of ESPN, with each period of rest or winter followed by new growth, spring or “SportsCenter.”
Each of the five phases or ’seasons’ of ancient Chinese philosophy carry associations with specific things. These are not to be confused with the Frankie Valli or the Four Seasons, where I like to stay when I’m in New York.
Here’s a simple example. While summer is associated with the the emotion of joy and sunblock, autumn is associated with courage, sadness and the new TV season. It is, because, in autumn, things are dying, like “Lone Star” did on Fox. The light is dying, as the days and my patience grow shorter. Plants, trees and fours are winding down their cycle of growth. Sadness, courage, the raking of leaves and sobbing uncontrollably are tasks and natural emotions as these changes are taking place.
That’s part of what the Chinese philosophy of the five phases or five elements and the chefs from Panda Express are trying to convey. Sadness and madarin chicken are part of the autumn season. Sadness and your choice of fried rice or chow mein isn’t an emotion or choices to be avoided at all costs. Instead, sadness and your choice of two entrees is simply part of nature.
So to celebrate the autumn equinox as the Chinese philosophers did, you might stand facing west while ordering, considered the direction of autumn in ancient Chinese philosophy and all P.F. Chang’s. Just stand for a few moments, honor the ‘westness’ of autumn and then order the Hong Kong Beef with Snow Peas. Consider your dreams and visions, the path on which you’re moving forward through your life and then finish your meal with the Great Wall of Chocolate.
Light white candles against the growing darkness of the season or place white flowers on your table along with an order of shrimp with candied walnuts in a white sauce. White is the color of autumn in the Chinese tradition and color of many Americans enjoying Chinese cuisine during this time period.
Allow yourself to weep for things you have lost, like for Yankee fans the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers. Weeping is the sound of this season according to Chinese philosophy, particularly if you live in New York, Philadelphia or are a Red Sox fan.
Find the courage to face what’s ahead, like the Warriors’ not making the playoffs. The Chinese understanding of nature’s cycle is in and around everything and the beautiful thing is you can order it all to go. All things come with egg drop or hot and sour soup, bloom, reach completeness, become brittle and die, then rest. Then the cycle begins anew, with the crispness of a fresh order of green onion pancakes.
So in celebration of our autumn dreams, today we are featuring the second good sunset on the fall, shot from Lighthouse Point on October 1. The amazing part of this night were the pink and purple clouds to the east as the west glowed red. It was like the sky had divided into two parts, and I was able to shoot one from column A and one from column B. I then skipped home and topped off the night with some milk and good fortune cookies.
Here’s a taste of some “Real Time” humor. “A very joyous week. A week where the whole world was watching a bunch of men trying to climb out of a hole they dug for themselves — but enough about the Democrats. Lets talk about those Chilean miners. Americans love Chilean miners. I haven’t seen so much hoopla about an endless procession emerging from a scary hole since the Octomom. One guy had four women waiting for him; there was the wife he never divorced, then there was the woman he lives with, then there was his current girlfriend and then the baby mama. He is now known as the Tiger Woods of mining.” –Bill Maher.
That’s our notes and jolts for the week. Had a chance to check out the action at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic down at Steamer Lane last Thursday morning as the waves and the light were fantastic. There’s a different feeling to this town when the waves are pumping.
Speaking of which, I’m double pumped and ready for the tomorrow’s start of the new NBA season. Like my freshman year at Syracuse, it’s going to be a classic. For you Giants’ rooters, enjoy the World Series and we’ll catch you in McCovey Cove. And don’t forget about the New York Giants and the Cowboys tonight on Monday Night Football. What a wonderful time of the year for those of us with a casual interest in sports.
So enjoy the action and be grateful for the simple things in life, like friends, good health and dial tone. Aloha, mahalo and later, Buster Posey fans.