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Welcome Dragon

February 20, 2012

We have just completed the first lunar cycle of the Chinese New Year, the beginning of which we celebrated in Singapore.  Some regions, including San Francisco evidently, celebrate the New Year at this time.  ~Fine, maybe a week ago now, but I’ve been busy with the art-making.  More on that later.~  CNY in Singapore was not what I expected, something like we have in San Francisco, but bigger and louder and more cowbell firecracker.  The nation-state-city of Singapore is a little too repressed for all that.  In fact, firecrackers are illegal.  I know, right?  It was sad to see electronic “firecrackers” for sale, making a pathetic sizzling sound, but no smoke, no smell.  Nothing exploding around your feet where you can’t see for the press of people.  But there was an exuberant press of people in China Town, buying the special foods and decorations, preparing to welcome this uber auspicious new year.

We have Dragon of Water Cycle.  Should be a very good year, but not too fiery, as he will be modified by his own Water sign.  We wandered the streets, soaking in the excitement, looking for a parade.  Uh uh.  For all the roads being blockaded, even to pedestrian traffic, there was to be no parade.  The was a stage in the approximate center of this huge and weirdly restricted zone which hadn’t worked itself up into much of anything by the time we were off to find the publicized/sanctioned/ratified fireworks.  Dinner rightly consisted of the famous Chili Crab for the man and a delicious dish called 12 Vegetables for me.  I felt a little upsold, being the most obvious tourist in the world, when the server insisted that I have an order of their special bread, really the only way to eat this dish.  She was absolutely right.  The heavily fungal mix of minced veg was intense, but tucked into little flat buns that tasted like plain bao to me it was a gorgeous blend of salty & vegetal & chewy and sweet & soft.  All this left me with a tiny space to be filled by a durian crepe from the market.  As we were heading back to the Marina to catch the fireworks at midnight, how best for Water Dragon to commence his reign?  Rain.  Yes.  But the restrained Singaporean display went up, right into the rain, as planned.  It was perfect.  Welcome.

Morning of New Year’s Day in our hotel was truly the most marvelous part of the celebration.  It is traditional for martial arts schools and Chinese guilds to send Dragons and Lions to local establishments for a sort of blessing ceremony.  A drum corps accompanies and drives the ‘animals’ on.  The Dragon danced in the portico, chased his pearl, and was fierce with grace… except when he got a kink in his back.  It was quickly remedied with a skillful manœuvre, but that particular pair of legs was subbed out with haste.  Can feet lose face?  When Dragon had finished, a pair of Fu Lions bounced through and into the lobby.  Just before the first one entered, he reared up on his back legs and looked as though he was going to crack his large skull on the lintel.  I had not noticed the head of lettuce suspended over the doorway, but Lion did and he plucked it down and ate it, spewing leaves all around.  Inside the lobby, second Lion found a platter of oranges ~very auspicious food for a sweet and golden/prosperous new year.  He settled himself down over the platter and after a few minutes’ munching, left behind a lucky message in sections and peel.  Then the drummers were driving again and the Lions went about the hotel, looking for lettuce and oranges.  They went into the back offices, up the elevators, through the restaurants, to all the important spaces, leaving leaves and messages behind.  It was great fun following the sound of the drums to where they would turn up next, then watching the dance and prance and acceptance of the offerings.  I was just tickled.

May Water Dragon rain his strength and prosperity on your new year.

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