Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Gods Themselves

I'm using the title of Isaac Asimov's 1972 novel because I've always liked the sound of it, and because the Gods Themselves were walking around my neighborhood yesterday...



The Gods Themselves


* * * * *

It was a lovely Saturday morning up on the roof, tending the garden, drinking coffee, worrying about the zucchini and looking out into the morning smog of Central Taichung.

First the birds stopped singing and then the sound of the missiles could be heard. They were lancing off in volleys of six or eight at a time. Then the drums and the gongs and all matter of noisemaker, accompanied by loudspeakers pouring out much of the same jarring clangs and thuds. It was still far off, and the sounds were being carried in on the breezes, but they were slowly getting louder.

It was either the Red Chinese going house to house of one of those temple processions. It rose to a cacophony in the distance, no..., distancesÂ… One seemed to be crashing in from the south and as another was clanging in from the north. If it was the reds, they'd have us pinned down.

Last weekend they had held the big Matsu procession that begins each year in Ta Chia to celebrate her birthday. From time to time, there are processions like this held on a smaller scale in the neighborhood. Yesterday there were two.


* * * * *


The first procession had started at the Shen Tyan Shang Di (玄天上帝) Temple on Chung Mei Jia, beside Sogo, around ten or eleven.


Shen Tyan Shang Di (玄天上帝) Temple


The procession had 2 wheeled litters, each pushed or pulled by 6 men in orange ball caps. The litters were each accompanied by a small army of marchers holding various religious implements, and many little, blue trucks full of gongs, drums, and exploding fireworks.



The procession split into two groups, each with a litter upon a wagon, and each snaked around the Canal District separately before merging back together in front of Oldies Franks and returned home to temporarily paralyze the Sogo parkade.



They did this by performing a complicated series of dances and actions to a background of box after box of fireworks pyssssshewing up into the air. That was around noon.



* * * * *


Then around two the zucchini patch began to tremble again, and I wondered if they were back. I looked and saw that there was another jumble of orange hats and religious paraphenalia littering the streets outside of Oldies Franks, with their accompanying gongs, drums, and fireworks. This time it was the Bao Shen Da Ti (保生大帝) Temple, and they had brought their four gods out for a jaunt around the neighborhood.









* * * * *


The Gods Themselves Came Walking down Hwa Mei


The Gods then Rested


Then the Gods Carried on...


But I saw their Footprints upon the Pavements


And their Fingerprints in the Zuchini beds...

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