Autumn in Hanoi

Autumn in Hanoi

When I was in Stockholm summer was drawing to a close. Approaching autumn was putting patches of gold on the birch-trees and purple flecks on hedges and bushes. People sitting or slouching on benches or on the grass literally ”imbibed” the summer sun whose departure was deeply regretted at the prospect of the coming cold and dim light.

As for us, children of the tropics, we always impatiently wait for the arrival of autumn which will free us from the oppressive heat of July. In fact only the northern part of the country is blessed with four relatively well differentiated seasons : because of the monsoons the climate of Vietnam as a whole is marked by the division in to only two seasons- the dry season, i. e. winter, and the damp season, summer.

The approach of autumn in Hanoi is heralded toward late August by mild weather and gusts of a dry and cool wind called gió heo may. The landscape, less gorgeous than in Europe, assumes a discreet charm , particularly in September and October: clear and transparent blue sky , blond light, lotus dying in the ponds , morning mist blurring the shapes of weeping willows on the banks of the Lake of the Restored Sword. The trees generally keep their greenness although a few dead leaves flutter to the ground.

“Drips of Autumn Rain” is the title of a musical work by the young composer Ðang The Phong, who died prematurely of consumption. Its notes and lyrics sang in the hearts whole generation, even in the depth of jungles during the First Indochina War

The 15th day of the 7th moon is our All Souls’ Day. A ceremony is held for absolution of wandering souls. Our great poet Nguyen Du (1765-1820) wrote sad for them:
In this seventh moon the rain sobs endlessly
Icy gusts penetrate to the resting places of dry remains.

Another great poet, Nguyen Khuyen (1835-1909), was an aesthete who enjoy making wash drawing-like short poems singing the charm of autumn landscape:
A pond in autumn, limpid and cold
From my tiny boat I fish with rod and line
A gust of breeze ripples the turquoise water
Some yellow leaves fall and glide away

Autumn, which evokes solitude, separation , and unhappy love affairs, is also in Vietnam the season of delicious foods , happy weddings and the Children’s Festival.

The most tasty fruits ripen between the 7th and 9th moons, longanes, grapefruit, bananas of the kind called tiêu, persimmons, plums, etc. Pigeons stuffed with chopped pork, specially processed glutinous rice (com), and lotus seeds, together with ginger-flavoured pastry , are particularly flavoured by gourmet scholars. One should not forget the moon- shaped banh deo and banh nuong. In autumn, the moon looks its best , pure and bright. A symbol of the female principle, yin, it is the tutelary spirit of woman, conjugal life, and marriage. It is the abode of Dame Moon (Ba Nguyet) and Old Man Silken Yarn (Ong To), who bind together man and wife with red silken thread. Weddings are preferably held in autumn in order better to receive their blessing. The mid- autumn Festival is the equivalent of Christmas for the children of Vietnam. But of that, more later on.

Source: - Vietnam vacations, Vietnam travel guide