For the last week, Beijing's skies have been, mostly, glorious. I went for a long run this afternoon, and got sunburned while doing so, a risk I had not previously feared.
All credit to whoever and whatever made this happen, from the Chinese scientists I quoted a few months ago saying that it would play out more or less the way it did; to the Chinese officials implementing the factory- and traffic- shutdown plans; to the American scientist who accurately predicted that the wind would shift to the proper, cleansing direction two or three days into the Games; to whatever powers were fundamentally responsible for the change of wind. The Japanese concept of 神風 -- kamikaze, "divine wind" -- unavoidably comes to mind.
In the bleak days just before the opening ceremony, I wondered whether the air could be such a problem that it would, through sheer shock, force a reconsideration of China's environmental policies. Now it's possible to imagine the opposite prospect: that Beijingers, having for once seen how transformed and pleasant the city can be when not under a pall, might resist being pushed back into the blear. As Jake Barnes once put it in different circumstances, Isn't it pretty to think so.