What the birds know….

This morning as I left for work, walking along the road usually taken, a bright sound greeted me as I walked through the compound where I live. Sweet bird songs brightened the air. On the branch above me, a happiness bird landed. 喜鹊 xique,  – in English we call them magpies – represents happiness in Chinese culture, and the first character in this birds name is 喜xi – happiness or ‘to like’.

Why were all the birds out this morning? After a long and drab winter, it was a joy to hear so many cheerful birdsongs. Today is,惊蛰j ingzhe, which means the insects awake, and it is the third of the 24 two-week solar terms which punctuate the luni-solar calendar.

Image courtesy of http://news.xinhuanet.com

Traditionally, thunder from spring rains was thought to awaken the insects. The date signifies that the weather is likely to get warmer ( it has, thankfully) and its a good time for farmers to plant the seeds, like the one in East Jiangsu province in the photo above.

Apparently the fish wake up too, so it’s a good time for fishing. Fish swim from deep to shallow water in search for food at this time of year, mate and spawn.

Photo from http://www.cits.net/china-travel-guide/features-and-traditions-about-awakening-of-insects.html

As people’s throats get sore from the warmer and dry weather, Jingzhe is a good time to eat pears. The juicy fruit is beneficial for sore throats, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine advises that this is a good time to nourish yang  energy, and it’s important to keep warm. This site gives some acupuncture points useful for this solar term.

Photo courtesy of http://www.xinhua.net

So along with the farmers, who all know that Jingzhe, March 6th, is a good day for commencing ploughing, apparently the birds knew something I did not know this morning.

The birds knew that the insects were waking up, and they might find a tasty morsel or two. No wonder they were singing!

xique, a Chinese magpie, the happiness bird!


Author: Debbie

immersed in the ancient culture of china, and its constantly changing facades.... a traveller through time and space landing in suzhou of the 21st century.... australian by birth, traveller by nature, mother of a beautiful ten-year-old

14 thoughts on “What the birds know….”

  1. I’ve vaguely heard about pears being good for the warmer weather, in that they are cooling kind of food. If I’m not mistaken, anything fried should be avoided and perhaps chicken soups as well as they are considered heaty meals, and can work against the body in that kind of climate. My Chinese Malaysian mum also said watermelon, longan and lychee water/fruits are great fruits for cooling down too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Mabel, good to see you hear. Yes all of those cooling foods. Pears are great for sore throats ( something I learnt here) and there is a chinese medicine that you can add to the pears when you boil them, then drink the ‘soup’ – it is totally amazing and clears a sore throat over night! wish i knew the name of it. works wonders. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Signs of Spring. I’m quite amazed that it appears overnight! We have winter resident birds, including those happiness birds, so their birdsong is year round. I have noticed they seem to be more active the past couple of weeks – must be as the insects have awoken!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Safar! totally incredible about the timing, i was so surprised to hear the birds singing this morning, havent heard a birdsong in ages, and then i found out about the Insects Wakening… i do have to say, for as long as i have been here, everytime a Chinese person tells me that “tomorrow the weather will be…… because it is….. ( such and such) a day on the lunar calendar” they are invariably right. its always right! incredible! 5,000 years of observing the weather I guess. Glad you have some happiness birds your way too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe I need to investigate biodynamic farming! Read an article from a homesteader who is extremely practical and no-nonsense, but when she advocated farming by the moon ….
        I’m rethinking my original position!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. i think you’d do well with moon gardening Safar – its quite a science.
        I know little about it, but you only have to think of how the moon pulls huge waves of water up out of the sea —
        you can call those tides magical mumbo jumbo, or you can call it science, its all the same, but it happens.
        its really just common sense that if the moon influences the tides she can influence the growth of plants too…

        keep us posted if you decide for a trial!!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, the same movement of water in the soil. It keeps bubbling to the surface every now and then and is at the edge of my consciousness, so I’m sure it’s going to get my full attention at some point! Would be good know something of it when starting out, rather than fumbling a long.


  3. I love seeing China through your eyes. I love how things are named there. It’s so right brain. The day the insects wake up. It’s all so creative. We have magpies here too. They talk a lot. They make me laugh. They actually stay all winter here. Our song birds are starting to arrive. Yesterday was the first robin song. So lovely.
    I hope you are well, Debbie. I will be back on line soon. It’s just been such a profoundly deep time for me. Journaling, but not posting. A lot going on on the planet. You know…\
    Much love,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI MARY!!!! HUGS! I have been thinking of you for days, and going to drop into an old blog post of yours to say g’day – and now here you are! yes I love it too – so poetic, so quaint, and so…. accurate! the insects awake indeed! the birds knew!
      in australia magpies are vilified, here they are happiness birds, i love it.

      profoundly deep time? a lot going on on the planet? tell me about it, sister, its been relentless. BUT: the Insects are Awakening! and so are the People! watch out , donald!

      hugs again, Mary. nice to be back in touch. 🙂


  4. I really loved reading this Debbie, and your detail on making the words and alphabet accessible to those outside China. Since Dec 21 in UK I have been so fascinated in how every day, those extra few minutes create such a sensitive response . It seems that everything is truly ruled by light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jane, i totally love the poetry and beauty of the characters, they way they are written and their underlying meanings. Indeed, everything is ruled by light. the dank dark winter is so depressing for someone like me who comes from the tropics. BTW, the birds are still singing! its a miracle! hope all is well out your way 🙂


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