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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Why We Love Spring in Yilan (And You Should Too)

We lived in Tainan for six years which is on the opposite side of the island. In many ways, the climate is just as different. Tainan was wonderful in winter; sunny, dry, not very cold, but it really didn't have much of a spring. Summer comes on like a switch in the south. At least in Yilan, Spring really sticks around much more leisurely, giving us all a long breath between the winter monsoons and summer typhoons.

These are some of my favorite Springtime moments happening now in Yilan.

Morning Glories: I noticed mid-March all the wild morning glories blossomed. Everywhere. Along the roads, paths, in the fields, around the trees. It sure adds another layer to the visuals on my daily dog walks.

Purple Herons: Apparently, these herons only nest in Siapu下埔, Yilan on their migration NE to China.

Return of the Big Critters: The macaques behind my house also came back with the warmer weather, which makes me wonder where they go in winter. They aren't the only ones though; there is wild game. The little Formosan barking deer (Muntiacus reevesi/山羌), and wild boar are also back. An old man (friend of my landlady's mom) came to my house yesterday as I was going to work, and told me he was hunting for deer behind my house, but accidentally caught a boar. I am pretty sure these are protected as they are endangered. Unfortunately, locals lay these traps everywhere and usually catch the neighborhood dogs, which is why I keep mine on a leash.

Clothes Can Dry: We've had quite the dry spell since the Lunar New Year; the river in front of my house slowly shrunk and is now a trickle, a small brook. Last week, about a dozen white herons were feeding on the tiny fish that got trapped in the shrinking pool and I've had to water my garden by hand, but the good news is, the clothes on my line, dried in a day.

Prime Camping: Now is the time for tents. It will be too hot in a month or two and perhaps wetter. There are some campsites nearby, but I suggest pitching a tent in a patch of green for free, which is what I saw this morning on my early dog walk. Here are some nearby spots in my neighborhood:

  • 蜜蜜雞地, 264宜蘭縣員山鄉坡城路90號, 03 923 0761
  • The Spooky Camping Site 山水幽谷營地, 262宜蘭縣礁溪鄉匏杓崙路143號, 0933 985 196
  • Mountain Dew 山上有水露營區, 262宜蘭縣礁溪鄉匏杓崙路150-8號, 0919 347 289

Planting Summer Melons: We have seedlings of red and yellow watermelon and cantaloupe in the garden. I can't wait for watermelon salsa and watermelon water! There's nothing more refreshing in summer (coconut water and sugarcane juice perhaps, but I can't grow or harvest those).

Will I grow gourds or bitter melon? I doubt it, my neighbors gave me more than I could use last summer.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: The patch of green beside the street in front of my house is the ad hoc neighborhood "dog park". The winter monsoon sent most of these feral canine packs huddled somewhere undercover. The dry March has them all lazing out in the sun. My kid nicknamed this one pack the Motley Crew, and they are no fun when I'm walking my dogs, they are very aggressive. The elderly neighbors carry walking sticks/weapons on their daily dusk walks.

Green Expo 2018 3/31-5/13: This is the 19th year. I've only been to one Yilan Green Expo, while my kid has taken field trips every year. Yilan's previous politicians have been notorious for slowing down development for the sake of environmental preservation, so this festival is a product of that legacy. Its a venue for local agriculturalists, botanists, and crafters using local agricultural products to showcase their wares, while teaching kids (and grown-ups) about caring for the earth.  It really attracts the crowds on the weekends, buses of them-which can't be too good for the environment.

Spring in Taiwan is a rather short, sweet affair so I intend to savor it while I can. The countryside in Yilan, my front porch is the optimum locality to do just that.

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