The countryside of Jiangsu province was covered in a blanket of gold. It was rapeseed, and it was one of the most beautiful agricultural events I’ve ever observed in all my travels.
When living in a Chinese city you rarely expect to step outside your door and see something beautiful. You just forget about beautiful things, the same as you forget about clean air and non-contaminated foods and people not calling you names thinking that you don’t understand. Chinese cities are pretty enough, they are covered in gardens, canals, and the streets are often lined with nice big trees. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I see many beautiful things on a regular basis in the east of this country.
So when this happens, when you see something that is truly beautiful here, it strikes you with even more power due to the surprise. In April I returned to Jiangsu province after traveling in another part of the country and took a bike ride into the countryside. I rode through a little village, made a turn, and was literally stopped in my tracks by the scene that enveloped me:
For as far as I could see there were fields and fields of little yellow flowers, blending together into a sea of gold. The wind blew and waves rippled through the aureate landscape. Everything was glimmering yellow. I got off my bike and walked slowly along the narrow path. There was nobody else around. The flowering plants were up to my shoulders, the yellow sun beat down from above and little yellow flowers reflected it back up to my face.
This was rapeseed, which is used to make vegetable and canola oil, and it was in full bloom on every farm, on every arable inch of land. It’s like this every year throughout Jiangsu province. For a week or so the entire countryside here wears a bright yellow coat. It is an agriculturally extreme scene, like the endless fields of corn in Iowa or giant banana plantations in Nicaragua, and something about the excess made it completely aesthetically enthralling.
I wondered if anyone else noticed how truly amazing the rapeseed harvest was here. Apparently, they did. An agricultural area near Xinghua, just north of where I was in Taizhou, was given a place on China’s official “agricultural heritage” list this month for their use of duo tian, a traditional Chinese type of agriculture that consists of raised fields with irrigation canals, while growing rapeseed.
Photo by Tom Carter.
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