Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Dec 23, 2013: Lotus flowers and nursing birds, Xi Hu (West Lake), Hangzhou, China


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West Lake is a 6.5 square kilometer freshwater lake situated in my hometown city of Hangzhou, in eastern China.  Unlike the towering high rises and skyscrapers of its neighbouring city, Shanghai, Hangzhou is famous for its natural beauty and cultural heritage. West Lake is the focal point of this beautiful city. The lake is surrounded by temples, pagodas, and lush vegetation. In June of 2011, the West Lake Cultural Landscape was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


During the springtime, the buds on the willow trees and cherry trees blossom. In the fall, the air is sweetened by fragrant osmanthus trees.  In the summer, the lake is famous for its vast stretches of blushing pink lotus flowers which are the symbol of Buddhism, a very popular religion in China.


When walking along the lakeside in the summer of 2012 while we were visiting, we noticed a group of retirement age photography enthusiasts all aiming their long camera lenses toward a lotus patch. They whispered that they had been following a family of birds nesting in a lotus flower for many days.  Following the photographers' lead, we got a great shot of the mother bird and her chick, who was already the same size as the mother, which is our featured Pic of the Day.


During the warm summer evenings in Hangzhou, visitors gather at West Lake to enjoy a unique cultural show known as “Impressions of West Lake.” Performers use the lake as their stage, sailing by on lighted boats and dancing on raised platforms in the water. Mystical lighting and music blend the performance with the surrounding natural scenery (picture 4). A trailer for West Lake show can be found here.


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