In my memory, most of parks in Changzhou have changed so much, except Dongpo Park. These photos prove my words.
These photos were taken around 1986. Yes! It’s me in the picture! In the last thirty years, there has been no change to Dongpo Park except the changing of seasons.
When I was a child, Dongpo Park was the nearest park to my home. My parents often took me to play. I’ve forgotten how much tickets cost at that time. I just remember that people called it Yizhou Pavilion. “Yi” means moor. I used to think the meaning of “Yizhou” was one boat before I knew how to read. Actually “Yi” means “stop the boat in the river” in Chinese. Dongpo Park is a Jiangnan (Southern Jiangsu) garden that combines natural scenery and historic places. Yizhou Pavilion is a pavilion inside Dongpo Park. In the Northern Song Dynasty, the famous writer Su Dongpo came to Changzhou and landed his boat there. He spent his remaining years until death in Changzhou. People built this memorial park later.
Every time we went to the park, my mother held my hand and ran to the hill top. The hill was small like a slope. On the hill top, people enjoyed the coolness and peace. At the foot of the hill, there was a pond. My parents told me it was an inkstone washing pool. I was learning Chinese painting in primary school at the time, so I wondered if I want to change the pool’s water to black, how many words I needed to practice and how much ink would be used. Seniors practice calligraphy in the park now by dipping brushes into water. If ancient people lived in the present, they must admire their wisdom.
At the foot of the hill, there is a small garden. The Taihu stone is joined together here, and there is a small cave. This is where my friends and I had picnics on the lawn and played hide and seek in the cave.
Walking eastward, across a stone bridge, there is Half Moon Island. Overlooking the air, the island is named for the half-curved crescent moon. Half Moon Island is quiet, and the vegetation is better preserved. There is a bridge on the north side called the Watergate Bridge where my mother lived when she was a child. She and her family lived near the river. Every year when the river rose, they caught small fish and crabs at home. I think of my Grandpa. Every year, he came to see the peony flower show in Dongpo Park, but he has left us.
I have grown up and now bring my own child to Dongpo park. He no longer likes climbing hills. He is not interested in hide and seek. He just asks if there is a playground in the park. I don’t think so! In recent years, a canal sightseeing boat was introduced, and it did arouse his interest. It’s a slow way to experience his and my hometown along the waterway in that antique boat.
Letting him stand in my position to take a picture was totally harmonious.
Well, it’s time to take up my camera and leave this here. I’m going to take my boy to explore the other parks in Changzhou. Goodbye, my childhood.
Photos, words, and even translation by Xiao Tang