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Ice, rime, and fireworks

By David Ferguson
China.org.cn staff reporter

Dusk over the Songhua River in Jilin City [Jilin City Government] 松花江的黄昏

Dusk over the Songhua River in Jilin City [Jilin City Government]


During the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, forced labor was used to dam the Songhua River above Jilin City in Jilin Province and build a hydro-electric power station. When the Chinese drove the Japanese out they had to fight hard, bravely, and at considerable cost to prevent the invaders from blowing up the dam and destroying the city. A statue in the center of Jilin commemorates their fight, and the hydro-electric station provides power to the city to this day. 在上世纪40年代日本占领东北时期,侵略者迫使中国劳工在吉林省吉林市松花江段修筑水坝,蓄高水位,建造了一座水力发电站。当中国人民赶走日本侵略者的时候,他们进行了艰苦卓绝的英勇战斗,付出很大的代价来阻止侵略者炸毁大坝淹没城市。后来,吉林市中心树立起一座雕像来纪念这场战斗,而那座水电站直到今日仍然在为城市输送电力。
In winter the Songhua Lake freezes to a depth of over a meter. You can drive a car on the ice, with a certain degree of risk. A few years ago a group of local dignitaries were proceeding across the ice in a fleet of limousines when they went through and were drowned. Last year, a similar accident happened on the lake in Jingyuetan Park near the new golf club in Changchun, when a 4x4 went through the ice and its occupants died. A friend once let me drive his car on the Songhua Lake. Unaware of these past incidents, I assumed it was perfectly safe as I skidded and slewed my way for miles around the lake. 在冬季,松花湖结冰厚达一米以上。你可以在冰上开车,但是要冒一定的风险。就在几年前,一列地方要员的豪华车队在冰上行进时压穿了冰面,一行人全部溺毙。去年在长春市的净月潭公园也发生了相似的事故,那里靠近新建的高尔夫俱乐部,一辆四驱车在公园湖面上行驶时压穿了冰面落入湖中,车上的人全部丧生。曾经有一个朋友让我在结冻的松花湖面上驾驶他的汽车。我那时并不知道这些前车之鉴,在冰面上一边打滑一边开出几英里远,还以为自己非常安全。
In the city the lakes freeze over as well. Opposite our apartment on the banks of the river there is a big park with two substantial bodies of water. My first winter in Jilin, when the cold had fully set in and the lakes had frozen to a depth of a couple of feet, I watched one morning as a group of men made their way onto the ice armed with a huge circular saw. 在市内,大小湖泊也全面封冻了。在我们河边公寓的对面,有一个大公园,那里有两片比较大的水域。我在吉林度过的第一个冬天,最冷的时候,湖面结冰厚达数英尺。一天清晨,我看到一群人走到冰面上,带着巨型的圆锯。
They began to cut the ice into blocks the size of a large suitcase, which they stacked by the side of a small truck they had brought. I was baffled as to what they were up to – was this in preparation for some kind of ice sculpture for the New Year celebrations? 他们开始动手切割下一块块大手提箱大小的冰块,摞在他们开来的小卡车旁边。我想不出他们要做什么。他们准备创作冰雕之类来庆祝新年吗?
My curiosity was satisfied when I saw the men humping the blocks onto the slopes that surround the water, where they proceeded to use them to build a set of "bobsleigh" runs. Some of these were equipped with extra bumps and bends to add a little spice to the experience. Once the runs were complete, you could hire an inner tube from a car tyre at a price of ten yuan per hour, and have as much fun as you could take. 我看着那些人把冰搬到湖边的缓坡上,接着在那里用冰块砌起一组雪橇滑道,这才恍然大悟。有些滑道建得格外蜿蜒起伏,以增添这项娱乐的刺激性。滑道一建好,你就可以用一小时十元的价格租一个汽车内胎,尽情玩乐。
The total drop on the runs is about 20 metres – enough to be exhilarating without creating any serious risk. Your momentum at the bottom will carry you across to the other side of the lake. There is a kind of glorious anarchy to the things – whatever health or security regulations exist seem to be applied with the lightest of touch. Children as small as three (including my own) are dispatched over the edge on a tube with nothing more between them and disaster than their thick winter clothing and an entreaty to "hold on tight". 整个滑道的落差足足有20左右,刺激十足,又不会太过冒险。当你滑落到轨道末端的时候,那冲力会让你横越冰面,一直冲到湖的另一边。人们都玩疯了,什么健康守则、安全条例统统抛到脑后。才3岁大的小孩子就被大人放在汽车内胎上向下滑,除了身上厚厚的冬衣和一句“抓紧了”的忠告,什么安全措施也没有。我家的孩子也在其中。
Bumps and bruises – and the accompanying faces streaked with frozen tears – are common enough. I saw a few near things, but never any serious accidents, although a mother told me that her daughter had once broken a wrist. 磕碰、擦伤比比皆是,小脸上也就常带着结冰的泪痕。我也看到了一些类似的损伤,但是没有任何严重的事故。不过听一位母亲说,她的女儿曾经有一次跌折了手腕。

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