A sure sign of spring is when you start hearing the frogs! And I know that when I can hear them, if I look, I can find them for some pictures! These were in our pond where the fountains are. It's nice that they also have these clumps of plants which give the frogs and fish great hiding places. The two mating were singing, or at least one was, but it stopped once it sensed me coming nearer; They never did move though. I learned that this "embrace" is called "amplexus." The females eggs are fertilized as they are laid. I will have to stop back when I have time and look for the thousands of eggs! The other pond, where the pavilion is, already has tadpoles. I've heard a certain call at night the past week, but I'm not sure what it is. It sounds like it's in the trees, either a tree frog or maybe some kind of lizard?
I thought I'd share some thoughts I had today. I LOVE being out in this beautiful world God has given us, that's where I feel that I can really connect with God. Today, I walked up a little hill in the center of our housing garden, where there is a small pavilion with lots of trees, and always birds singing. The wind was gently blowing through the trees and it was SO peaceful and relaxing! As I sat there listening to that sound of the wind in the trees, the thought came to me how they (the wind and the trees) need each other to accomplish making that beautiful sound. Without the wind, the trees would stand silent on that hill, and without the trees, the wind could blow all it wanted, but not make that beautiful sound. This is like us and God. God is like the wind, always moving somewhere, but he needs us, his children on earth, for beautiful sounds (speaking Gods Word) on earth to happen, but we (the trees), can't accomplish that without God :-) What sweet sounds we can make together when we are in fellowship with our heavenly father
The Light-vented, or Chinese, bulbul is one of our most common birds here in Songshan Lake. The scientific name is Pycnonotus sinensis. They are one of three types of bulbuls found here. They are a beautiful bird, with a striking black and white head, yellow-green streaks on their olive green-gray tails, wings and backs, and a creamy white belly, with a slightly darker colored breast. The yellow coloring is brighter during mating season.
They like lightly-wooded areas and parks or gardens with plentiful trees. They eat fruit and insects, so, of course anywhere with fruit trees would be a favorite. They are also called the "old-man bulbul", because of the white band or hindcrown on their head, which supposedly gets whiter as the bird gets older. In Chinese art, they even represent old age. A couple of Chinese Bulbuls, placed among peonies or other favorable surroundings, wishes an elderly married couple long, successful lives.The scientific name is Pycnonotus sinensis (sinensis)
Oriental White-eye, some of my pictures from Songshan Lake and Shenzhen, in Guangdong ProvinceRead More
I don’t think I had ever seen a true Lotus flower before coming to China…and when I did, I was spellbound by its beauty! Obviously, people throughout history have felt the same!
Much of this fascination comes from the fact that this stunningly beautiful flower grows out of muddy, murky water. We, as humans, like to compare ourselves, and our lives to these flowers; from them, we gain great encouragement for potential achievement in our lives, no matter where our “roots” are.
This is why the lotus is a sacred symbol in Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Egyptian and Greek Mythology. It symbolizes purity, spirituality, beauty and more. There are extensive specialized symbolic meanings of the lotus in these religions that I am not knowledgeable of and will not cover here.
There is often much confusion between the true lotus and the water lily. The Sacred Lotus, also known as the Indian Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, is native to southern Asia and Australia. It is pink or white. There is one other true lotus, the American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, native to North America. It is yellow or white. The flower called the Blue Lotus, native to Egypt, is actually a water lily. The easiest way to tell if a flower is a Lotus or water lily is to look at the center; A lotus has a seed pod, the water lily does not. The lotus has complete, circular leaves and the water lily leaves have a separation or cleft in the leaf. After confusion in the past, they are now classified in two different scientific families; Nelumbonaceae for the lotus family, and Nymphaeaceae for water lily family.
The lotus is an aquatic perennial plant and grows in shallow freshwater. It actually lives in mud (soil), water and air at same time! The rhizomes (underwater stems and roots) grow in the mud and the leaves and flowers shoot up above the water and lie on the surface. The flowers open with the sun in the morning, and close again when the sun sets. After the flower finishes blooming, the pod, which is the fruit, continues to grow. As it dries, it shrinks back, eventually droops, and allows the seeds to fall into the water. The plants don’t tolerate the cold, so depending on the area, their blooming time varies, but definitely not during winter.
In China, the lotus is used as an ornamental plant, as food, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Many things take on special meanings in China because the way they are pronounced sounds like a similar word in Chinese. Because of this, the lotus symbolizes “continuous harmony,” and the seeds symbolize the “continuous birth of children.” The love of the lotus throughout Chinese history has resulted in a large amount of literature, poetry, and paintings being very popular. It can also be found represented in jewelry and many other decorative forms.
The whole plant: flowers, flower stems, young leaves, seeds (also called nuts) and rhizomes, are all edible and quite popular in Asian cuisines. The rhizome, referred to as the lotus root, lian ou 莲藕, is the most popular.
The roots grow up to four feet long, with many segments joined together. Usually in markets you will find them single or with two or three segments joined. It can be stir-fried, used in soups, pickled, dried for a powder (often used as a drink), or used for desserts. I love the sweet lotus root stuffed with sticky rice, called “guì huā lián'ǒu” 桂花莲藕.
The seeds, liánzĭ 莲子, are also commonly used. They can be eaten raw by removing the outer casing and the bitter green sprout inside. A paste used for desserts is also made from the raw seeds. The seeds are often dried: These should be soaked in water before using, then they can be used in soups or desserts.
Even the petals can be eaten, or used as a garnish! Tea is made from the roots, leaves and stems. The leaves are also used for wrapping others foods, especially sticky rice, for cooking.
In TCM, the lotus has many uses: The sprouts are used for heart health and high blood pressure, other parts for intestinal healing, help with constipation and diarrhea, reducing mucus to help with colds and sinus problems, increasing energy and more!
Next time you are at the market, think about trying lotus in one form or another!
Lotus can be seen in many areas around Guangdong Province, especially in June and July. Honghu Park in Shenzhen has a Lotus Culture Festival in June. The lotus pond in the pictures is Lou Lim Ioc Garden in Macau, during July.
The CamelliaRead More