A very poor Ming-style vignette in honor of Grandmaster Zhang Dai

Three years ago I lived near this place. Frequently, of an evening, when the sunlight turned golden and the air became brisk, I came here by motorcycle to race on this isolated road along this high mountain ridge. Both sides of the road here are deep valleys, filled with dark, cool, silent forest, and, higher up, the mountains roll away towards the horizon in rows and rows of ever fainter blue -- until they merge with sky and clouds at infinity.

Every time I came here, a sparrowhawk would join me and fly by my side for several miles, staying constantly some 30 meters away, on my right, which was also the eastern side of me, where the sky grew dark. The sunlight reflected off him; against the darkening sky he burnt like a precious ruby.

I don't know why he followed me: perhaps he liked the color of my bike, or mistook the logo on my helmet for a bird. Or perhaps it was just his regular time to fly along the ridge to enjoy the sunset and it was me who followed him instead. Or perhaps he simply wanted to take a closer look who it was that intruded on his territory.

Or perhaps he was not an sparrowhawk at all, but an omen1, or a ghost of someone who had died here, or an incarnation of the genius loci. But he was here every time I came to race my bike on this isolated road along the top of the mountain ridge.

Today I returned here to see if he was still there, but, no, he wasn't. I raced my bike alone and no one followed me.


1 A bird of evil omen: one appears about half way (6'20") through this video.


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