Now I know what you meant when you said

One of my most subtle pleasures this year has been watching the tree outside my room.

I have watched it deepen, crimson and yellow, and followed the withered leaves float to the ground. I saw what autumn colours mean; I’d only known leaves to be there or not to be there, and very rarely a colour in between green and brown. I took countless pictures of squirrels scampering about the branches before I got used to the sight and discovered how vicious they can be.

The tree was what told me there’d been a snowfall overnight: the snow covered its branches so thickly, I could discern a vision of white between the gaps in my blinds. There were no squirrels then. But there were lots of snowball and snow angels and writing with my bare fingers or boot-covered toes, and an igloo in the middle of the Vanier field.

Overnight — or at least, that’s how it feels — the tree has sprouted new, red buds, that I can’t remember seeing yesterday. I spent my morning working through my to-do list with birds flocking and twittering after each other in one endless courtship. And the surest sign that spring is arriving is the sudden presence of fat squirrels all over the campus again.

There is something lovely about this passing of seasons. I’d only read, but never known, of the crunching sound of walking on crisp leaves, or the frozen earth, or the urge for spring-cleaning. Hong Kong is too wonderfully different to have the same kind of seasons; its climate is sub-tropical and very much focussed around the rain and typhoons (monsoons). I laugh when people say what a lot of rain we have here, because I often wish there were bigger downpours rather than mini-drizzles. I’ve even learned to enjoy walking with my head uncovered in a light rain, and what better excuse than grey skies to turn up the volume of your favourite music?

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