Fishermen’s four seasons

The spring has brought changes to My Shanghai. Beyond everything else, we mourn the passing of Virginia’s grandson, Eric Palmer, who let us into his life on camera and helped with the production. His obituary is online in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

May has also been fundraising season. Our Kickstarter drive runs until Saturday at 3pm PDT. With 1 day to go, we still need pledges to reach the $20,000 goal. Can we do it? Yes, we can do it! All it takes is a bunch of people to say, “Hey, let’s do it!”

Kickstarter is open all night!

We have until 3:00pm PDT Saturday, June 1, to reach $20,000

But no matter what happens with the campaign, I’ve come to appreciate the way things fall into place when you’re meant to do something. You’re not sure why; they just do. Take, for example, Virginia’s furniture.

The tall chest sits near the stairs. It’s humble. Someone decorated these doors with a thick brush and a little pot of paint. Virginia says she never got around to having it translated, so I took a picture on one of my recent trips. I had to know.IMG_2246

Dr. Jiyu Yang is the resident scholar at Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland. He’s been a wonderful resource for many of the cultural aspects of My Shanghai — calligraphy, music, poetry. At first glance, he said it was probably a poem and was happy to translate it.

Now, for the falling into place part. My co-writer, Joan, and I decided months ago we would build My Shanghai around the seasons. It’s a traditional approach to a life story, of course, but what could be more natural? Especially when you loosen up a bit about what seasons are and what seasons mean.

The seasons have been here much longer than we have. We are required to adapt to them and not the other way around. The seasons don’t care what country we live in.

In the trailer, Virginia shows us her Japanese woodblock prints that she bought in Japan. “My three children all want them,” she says with a little laugh. “So it’s going to be difficult.”

Unlike the prints, the humble furniture doesn’t have a big role in My Shanghai. I don’t know if anyone will ever draw straws to see who gets it. But like any good supernumerary, it quietly serves the story. Here is Dr. Yang’s translation:

Fishermen’s Four Seasons

The seasons coming and going

Energy flows down and up

As fish jumping up the Water Gate

The Chi circles as yin and yang

The moon changes from new to full thirty days

Spring knows the fish streaming in the water

Summer sees the clouds pass through as dragon

Autumn finds the codfish quiet at the bottom

Winter is the time for harvesting fish

•     •     •     •     • 

One final note: we need your fish.



© 2013 First Straw Films

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