Pigeons Keep Hovering over Beijing Skyline
From the days of imperial emperors to a booming market economy, the skyline of the capital of Beijing has kept changing, but not the soaring flocks of pigeons dashing higher over head and their soft cooing are dear to Beijingers for generations.
The centuries-old Bell Tower to the north of the Forbidden City has been to generations of Beijingers the best and most ideal site to enjoy the birds, known to many as the "city's angels".
As the pigeons hover above the ancient tower and their cooing drowns out the hubbub of the busy downtown streets, the bustling metropolis returns to its serene and solemnity, old residents here would say.
A late prestigious writer, Yu Dafu, once referred vividly to the ancient city of Beijing amid pretty Autumn scene as an especially lovable city with pastoral grace and flavors.
Pigeons, believed by many Beijingers to have brought a natural and relaxing impact on urban life, are found frequently in records of old Beijing and have gone down in its longstanding history.
Today, as the eaves of former imperial palaces give way to tall scaffolds and skyscrapers, the hustling crowds still stop to look up into the blue skies each time a flock of pigeons speeds by.
Li Changming, 63, has meticulously attends to his little pigeon house in a compact courtyard house in downtown Beijing, where he keeps more than 50 pure and lovely pigeons. Each day after his afternoon tea, Old Li climbs on to the roof to pass time with his birds, and enjoy their cooing and the flurry they make as they dash out of the cage.
"It's really refreshing to see the lovely birds and hear them cooing," he said.
None of Li's neighbors seem to mind the birds' noises or their litter. "The color and liveliness they bring to our lives are more enchanting," said one.
A draft regulation designed to maintain public sanitary conditions in Beijing municipality, however, almost drove pigeons out of Beijingers' lives this year by outlawing pigeon houses on the roofs, balconies or even gardens of residential buildings.
Approximately 23,000 anxious pigeon keepers voiced their objections to the Beijing Homing Pigeon Association. "Rescue the pigeons and retain Beijing's lovely old skyline" was their common call.
The association soon persuaded the policymakers, and the final regulation issued on October 1 granted permanent residents the right to keep the birds.
"Of course, they should and have every reason to stay. Beijing would not be the same without these lovely birds," said Lin Hongming, secretary-general of the Beijing Homing Pigeon Association.
Pigeons have long been regarded by the Chinese people as symbols of youth and peace, and a pigeon-releasing function routinely signifies important ceremonial occasions in China.
(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2002)
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