Grass there shall be, originally uploaded by bexadler.

Shenyang is a city in a constant state of flux. One feels as though the city is under construction year-round from dawn til dusk. When I first arrived I thought this was because Shenyang is a newish city and is still in the developing stages. Ha! How naïve I was.

My first indication that something was awry in Shenyang came during May of last year. One morning I walked out of my apartment complex and was shocked at the transformation that had taken place overnight. Suddenly there were trees, shrubs, and grass everywhere. I racked my brain trying to come up with an explanation. Had spring really come overnight? Had I really not noticed all of the trees just because they were not green during winter? Is that possible?

My answer came a few days later while I was waiting for a bus. There I was, standing in the dirt next to the bus stop with everyone else, when a flatbed truck rolls up. Out hops four or five workers. From the truck another worker throws down rolls of sod. The workers lay out the sod, pat it down, and hop back into the truck. Et voila! Now we get to stand in the lovely grass while we wait.

After the grass incident, I started to notice that all of the trees had wooden rods propping them up and IV bags of fertilizer attached to their trunks. Obviously, they were new too. So I hadn’t imagined the sudden change of season. It literally happened overnight. The Chinese were like “Cut! That’s a wrap. Time for spring!”

Likewise, when they decided it was time for winter, they began pulling out all of the grass, yanking out all of the newly planted trees, and laying down new sidewalks. Alas, Shenyang will never be complete. In spring they will continue to tear out all the sidewalks and put down grass and plant trees. Then in autumn they will tear out all the trees and grass and put the sidewalks back in. It’s craziness, but, hey, it gives people jobs and keeps the GDP in tact. To me this is a huge waste of resources, both human and natural. It is also almost so ridiculous that it’s unbelievable (who could make this stuff up?!). I always get the same reaction when I tell people at home about these kinds of things: “You’re joking, right?” I only wish I were. Anyway, because of the disbelief among my friends, I have been trying to document the scene change this year with pictures. You have no idea how excited I get when I capture the workers actually installing the trees and grass. It’s like I’ve won the lottery. Unfortunately, I almost always have only my iPhone with me so they aren’t great quality, but I think people will get the idea.

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