|Yang Hongyan [For Women of China/Yang Hongyan]|
Yang Hongyan, whose pen name is Ban Xia, during the past five years has devoted much of her energy to exploring the unique charm of insects — the magical friends of humans. Given her keen observation and delicate, tender feelings for the small creatures, Yang has created some literary works (on insects), which have generated positive responses from readers.
On November 2, 2019, Insects in Wild, written by Yang, made the list of the top 10 "Excellent Chinese Books with Nature-related Themes." The awards ceremony was held in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province.
Yang is a native of Huize, a county in Qujing, a city in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. In 1988, she graduated from the biology department at Yunnan University. During the past two decades, she has been working as a journalist/editor with Yunnan Newspaper Media Group. In her spare time, Yang has created many literary works, including those on insects and flowers.
|Yang Hongyan takes a photo of an insect. [For Women of China/Yang Hongyan]|
Forging Close Bonds with Insects
Yang will never forget how excited she was when she saw a fly on a leaf on a hot summer day (in 2014) after the rain. "The fly looked like the 'Iron Man' in green armor. Amazed at its unique beauty, I took pictures of the creature," recalls Yang.
Since then, Yang has been exploring the mystical world of insects. She bought books on insects, so she could learn the names of the insects that she caught in the wild.
"Every night, I carefully look at the insects' photos, which I take during the day. I also read books to learn more about the creatures, especially those new 'friends'," says Yang.
|A photo of an insect taken by Yang Hongyan [For Women of China/Yang Hongyan]|
Yang has been faithfully recording, through the lens and in her diaries, insects' lives for the past five years. Also, she has been writing diaries to record her experiences in observing the insects.
"If you want to see a colorful world, all you need to do is to walk out of your house and take a close look at lovely insects around you," says Yang.
"Believe it or not, I always use my mobile phone to take pictures of insects. To save energy, I carry water, food and the phone, when I travel in the wilderness to snap photos of insects," says Yang. "Also, I use the phone to take pictures, so I will not disturb the small creatures." Anyone, she adds, can use his/her mobile phone to record beautiful things in life, especially in nature.
|Insects in Wild, a book written by Yang Hongyan [For Women of China/Yang Hongyan]|
Exploring the mystical world of insects has not only reminded Yang of many beautiful memories of her childhood, it has also broadened her vision.
In 2018, Yang interviewed Liu Huajie, a naturalist and a professor of philosophy with Peking University. Influenced by him, Yang established her life goal: To become a naturalist.
During the past few years, Yang has carefully studied many books on natural history, including A Sand County Almanac (by Aldo Leopold, an American author and philosopher), The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature (by David George Haskell, an American biologist and author), and Silent Spring (by Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, author and conservationist).
Yang also learned that China's first book on natural history is the Book of Mountains and Seas, a mythological and geographic work in ancient China, of which 14 volumes were written during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), and four volumes during the Han Dynasty (25-220). The book depicts how man should live in harmony with nature. During the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), Zhang Hua, a scholar, poet and protoscientist, compiled Records of the Investigation of Things, China's first treatise on natural history.
In Yang's eyes, the world is like a huge garden, in which beautiful insects fly among various flowers and plants throughout the seasons. She hopes people will better understand how to find peace of mind when they explore nature. She also hopes people will show more respect toward nature, especially after they learn about her discoveries in nature (which she recorded in her books).
"Compared with man's world, insects' kingdom is simpler. I'm impressed by the harmonious relationships of the different species of the small creatures," says Yang.
She plans to write books to help children learn more about nature after she retires from Yunnan Newspaper Media Group (within two years). "I hope more kids will 'fall in love' with nature," she says.
In December 2019, Insects in Wild earned Yang Hongyan the special prize during the Fourth Qi Jun Essay Competition, held by October, one of China's best-known literary magazines. [For Women of China/Yang Hongyan]
(Women of China English Monthly February 2020 issue)
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