Monday, May 08, 2006

Leaving Mother Lake

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. I have serious computer problems with my home Mac, and the time I got online Saturday morning to post was the only time it was cooperating all weekend. I think I am going to have to do a clean install of the OS and lose everything that hasn’t been backed up. Mainly that is software updates and the pictures from the last month or so. Bummer.

I was forced to spend all day Sunday without a computer. ACK! I did a lot of other stuff like knitting, reading, and working in the yard though, which was nice. The baby was feverish so we stayed home from church. Buddy boy helped me prune and weed the garden, mow the lawn, and sweep the patio and I was struck with the irony of the situation. My 18 year old son, who is bigger and stronger than me and who I expect could do a man’s full day of work spent the day mostly sleeping and my 3 year old little man who needs constant supervision and assistance was dogging my heels “helping” me all day. Why isn’t it the other way around?

The book I am reading was lent to me by a friend, and it is checked out of her library on her card so I have to hurry up and finish it and get it back to her. It is a true story titled Leaving Mother Lake: girlhood on the edge of the world by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. Yang grew up in Moso country, on the Chinese-Tibetan boarder. She tells of her matrilineal Moso culture, where women are the heads of the family and everyone lives in their mother’s house their whole life. No one gets married. Women have as many children as they can, and live in their mother’s house with their children. Men take care of the Yaks in mountain pastures, go on trading treks and visit their lovers’ homes but return to their mother’s house to live. The society sounds very healthy and balanced and peaceful. Yang’s mother broke with tradition and left her mother’s house in her youth, and set up her own household two day’s walk away. Yang herself follows this example, leaving home to join a dance troupe and eventually gaining fame in the Shanghai Music Conservatory. According to the fly leaf she now lives in San Francisco and Beijing. I am enjoying the descriptions of their simple way of life and the beauty of the Himalayan mountains. It is interesting to see the Han Chinese described as outsiders as well as the dominant majority, influencing Moso culture only a little in the first half of the book (the 60’s and 70’s) but having a major impact on Yang’s life in adulthood. Having lived in China for two years I could relate to many of the images and enjoyed reading about life there from a different perspective. It is always fascinating for me to read of the rites of passage for young girls coming into womanhood and making a life for themselves. Seeing it unfold in a unique culture brings home the beauty and wonder of our common passage.

2 comments:

Lilian said...

this sounds like a fascinating book. Wow, you spent two years in China. My brother and SIL are about to spend at least two. I really want to go visit them.

cloudscome said...

Yes, the book is really good. I can remember so much about China as I read, because she is in Beijing and Shanghai in the mid 80s, the same time I was there. I was teaching English and after two years came back to the States to go to grad school. I thought I would go back to China, but then I had my son and plans changed....

I'd love to go back some day. What are your brother and SIL planning to do there?