Central China’s Henan Province is an arid, sunny place. Although the sun is often muted by the persistent air pollution, enough rays get through to provide good conditions for growing lavender. On the outskirts of Anyang City,there is a farm that grows lavender as a tourist attraction. I visited the farm as part of a promotional tour group. Entry was free.
Taking photos was the main draw for visitors to the lavender farm. The air pollution that morning gave the fields a pleasant, gauzy aesthetic. Women came equipped with sun umbrellas and hats with wide, floppy brims.
Various things had been placed in the fields to create what was essentially an outdoor photo studio.
My favorite scenery prop was a group of large white letters that spelled out “Love.” The bright white letters against the soft, misty hue of the lavender made for a great aesthetic. Also, there is the emotional component that is evoked by the mere sight of the word love. Kind of funny to see the word spelled out large in a field in central China, a place were almost no one can read, write, or speak English.
A small group of workers tended to the fields. I caught them occasionally taking a break to watch the visitors. I captured a nice picture of one of the workers surveying the scene while crouching among the plants.
Once at the farm, I was befriended by a few of the other visitors, including a woman traveling with her daughter. They saw that I had a real camera and asked me to take a few pictures of them. As they posed together, I was touched by their closeness and sincerity. I later emailed the pictures to them.
I also took pictures of strangers. For instance, I saw a group of older women smiling serenely while posing for a picture. They looked so happy and untroubled. I had to capture that moment. That they were strangers made no difference.
I even took a picture of someone’s dog. An older woman had placed her lap dog on top of a white pedestal. The dog was cute in a stout, pudgy, slobbish short of way. He certainly did draw attention, as several people soon started taking his picture.
There were quite a few large grasshoppers working the grassy areas near the lavender fields. Some of the children caught the grasshoppers and inspected them thoroughly. Some of the grasshoppers wound up missing a leg or two.
I was pleased to see the grasshoppers, for that was a sign that the land hadn’t been so poisoned that not even insects could live. Any kind of wildlife can be a rare thing in many parts of China.
Before leaving, I snapped one last picture of love.