We woke up in Dongyang this morning to board the bus and leave for Tiantai. Along the way, we stopped at a road cut to observe a dinosaur egg clutch that had been left in place in the rock where it was discovered. Seeing a clutch in its proper geologic framework has begun to provide the research groups with a starting point for correlating observations made at the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History to those made in the field. Just as in good journalism, in paleontology, context is everything. That afternoon, after scrambling around the outcrop some more, trying to avoid squishing the extremely tiny frogs living in the ditch, we arrived in Tiantai. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, nestled up against the city, lies the serene Buddhist temple of Tiantai.
We arrived at the temple shortly before it closed to the public for the night, so we were unable to enter all of the places of worship. A stroll through the gardens and yellow-painted buildings did much to relieve our tiredness from a long day of climbing outcrop and travel. Farmers slogging their way through rice paddies behind water buffalo-driven plows in the shadow of towering multi-story pagodas probably felt nothing of our relief, however. The temple of Tiantai certainly allowed us to experience a different side of Buddhist spirituality from that of Hangzhou’s bustling, majestic Lingyin Temple.
That evening, the hardiest among us hatched a plan to awaken at 2:30 a.m. in order to watch the England vs. U.S.A. World Cup football (soccer to the rest of us) game. Sure enough, snacks in hand, a few of our group piled into Dr. Varricchio’s room and cheered the U.S.A. on to a 1-1 tie against the heavily favored English. It may have been a tie, but perhaps context also holds a similar importance in football. Regardless, the next morning’s adventure would arrive a little sooner for all of the football fans.