Thursday, April 2, 2009

Great Family, Great Wall

We have visitors. Aaron's brother, Benji, and his lovely wife, Christina, are here visiting us for one week.

We spent Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, showing them the sights -- the Forbidden City, the Great Wall -- and saying goodbye to those places ourselves.

We rode up to the Great Wall on a ski lift-type contraption. I was impressed by the silence and the smell of pine trees. Snowflakes fluttered down.

The Great Wall is always breathtaking, but especially so behind a soft-falling curtain of snow. We stood mesmerized, gazing at this man-made thing snaking over the jagged range, away into the distance. Just when you thought you were seeing the end of it, there stood another half-crumbled guard tower on a distant peak.

We walked up and down a thousand stairs, some shallow and gradual, some high and steep. The Chinese people we met seemed proud. Laughing. Confident. They deserve to be proud. Their heritage is amazing. I looked at Olivia and thought, "Your people accomplished this!" I wonder if any of her ancestors worked to carve out this wall, if any of their bones are buried under the foundations.

When it was time to leave, time to board our toboggans for our slide back down the mountain (yes, I took Sophie down the mountain on my lap in a toboggan!), I told our children to touch the wall, to say goodbye. They did it, reverently. We don't know when we'll be here again, breathing in the sweet smell of pines in this swirl of snow on this seemingly eternal wall. Maybe never.

"If you haven't been to the Great Wall, you aren't a real man."
- Chairman Mao
Sophie is now, officially, a real baby.


  1. Hello! I caught a glimpse of your blog from Marilyn's- so great to see your family and "little" Olivia again! I have an almost 3 yr old girl, Gloria, a 14 month boy, Aaron and a -5 mo. baby, Superfly. Check out our blog at (And keep writing... I've been working on a children's book that I have to get done before #3 comes!) Blessings! Alison (Stedman)

  2. One of my greatest disappointments when we visited China in '03, was not getting to see the Great Wall. Guess I'm not a real woman... :)