From the Collections

Paddling in the Yard…

Most of us know the age old saying “April showers bring May flowers.” While very poetic, this promising statement of blossoming flowers, in clear blue skies with slightly cool breezes that provide a beautiful counter to the warmth from sun, does not always ring true or meet the idealistic visions we’ve created in our minds. Much like winter tends to stick around a little bit longer than we’d prefer, those April showers can occasionally linger well into May, providing us with a very soggy Spring. In China, starting in April or May, the summer rainy season monsoons begin and can last for many months, unpredictably smattering heavy deluges of rain throughout the long season. With the tendency of excessive rains continuing to fall, Maryknollers have oftentimes taken matters into their own hands! In this diary entry from May 1929, you can see the precautions being taken to avoid swimming or boating to get across the yard:

“To avoid the chapel being flooded during the rainy season, the floor was raised, filled in with sand, made one foot higher, and new tiles are now being laid. While we were at it, we raised the walks leading to the chapel and house. That means that we shall not have to use our boat frequently. We always were land lubbers anyway — so we are actually happy to abandon the boat paddling in the yard.”

One might ask, “Was there really a need for such precautions or were they just being over cautious?” A valid question, to be sure, but take a look at this diary entry from August 1927:

 

Heemskerk_FloodSunChong_c1928“TYPHOON – FLOOD. On the 20th and 21st of August, the wind blew and the rains fell — a few blinds and windows also fell; there was a foot of water in the house and chapel, and to get out, we had to navigate in our little boat, which we have for that very purpose. Mass was said in the chapel, however, as the alter is elevated several feet above the water line. But during the sermon, the people (barefooted, of necessity), sat with their feet in the water.”

Preparations for potential flooding definitely seem like a valid concern for the Maryknollers living in China after their prior experience! Whether your Spring is full of lingering rain or never-ending sunshine, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers, for undoubtedly they will be there rain or shine. Take a moment to soak it all in!

Heemskerk_FloodSunChong_c1928B

 

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