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F
lower watching is at its best in Taipei from late summer through autumn. There’s still enough sun to help plants flourish, but it’s not so hot that delicate petals wilt right away. A few days ago, I noticed that my neighbors had swapped out one of their potted bushes for a flowering plant with tendrils upon tendrils of delicate purple blossoms. Though I knew I couldn’t capture how pretty they looked swaying in the wind, I still had to snap a few photos. While I was stooping over to get the best shot, I noticed a bit of bright red in the corner. At first I thought some litter had blown into the base of the plant—but, no, it was a tiny Earth God (土地公), the patron of land and agriculture! I’ve seen many Earth God figures, but this one, with its chubby cheeks, pink lips and little round hands, is the cutest one so far. I think it mixture of tradition and whimsy really captures a lot of what I like about Taiwan.

August Break 2012