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The small river in my hometown

Popularity 1Viewed 3752 times 2016-1-28 21:09 |System category:Life

               As a popular saying goes, memories and experiences are a great treasure of human life. They lead people to examine the past and look ahead with new perspective. 

If I am asked where my most precious memory springs from and what significance it has on my life, the first thing that comes into my mind is the small river that is flowing across my village, its sweet water nurturing hundreds of folks and their livestock and crops along. 

Though it’s nearly ten years since I last visited the lovely river, the beautiful image of its water gurgling and shimmering in the sun has long photographed itself on my mind. 

Like an old friend, it kept me company through changes of seasons as well as times of ups and downs, especially when I was in adversary or got caught up in life-changing tragedies, the river, transcending time and space, was flowing all the way into my broken heart, singing a song about the good old days, soothing and healing my scarred soul. 

The water is moving, so is my life. For years, the gurgling water has emerged into my vein, making itself an indispensable part of my existence. 

The small river flows from east to west and it lies to the west of my village, and it’s surrounded by farms and cottages on its north bank and a primary school and a big orchard on its south bank. 

It’s where villagers draw water to irrigate their crops and water their cows and horses and it also acts as a natural fishing ground which provides entertainment and with its fish, shrimps, and clams adds variety to the villagers’ dinner table. 

In all aspects, the small river links closely with people’s life quality; it’s the lifeblood of the villagers’ existence in that era of lower productivity.      
         
When spring comes, everything in nature comes to life and the small river is also awakening from its deep sleep. When the sun rises, rays of warm sunshine slanting across its icy surface, the thick ice begins to thaw away, and the water takes on a color of light green; tiny creatures in the river are fermenting and thriving. 

By midday, the smooth surface is glinting with patterns of blue sky and reflections of tall trees and low bungalows on both banks. Nameless wild flowers and weeds outgrow the wide slope, with flocks of sheep and cows grazing serenely across the vast fields. 

Farmers say it’s harmless for the herd to tread and graze on the wheat seedlings. On the contrary, they grow better if greeted by sheep and cows.          
       
Summer is the best season to have closer access to the small river. As the sun casts blazing flames onto the earth, with cicadas chirping vigorously and noisily among leaves and the villagers sweating profusely on their farm, the river is a cool place to seek shade and rest. 

They can sit under the canopy of big trees, drinking tea or listening to the radio or leisurely casting a fishing-line into the water to try luck. 

When I was a kid, I had ever made simple fishing gear with long ropes, glass jars, and earthworms as baits, but to my dismay, I had never pulled out any fish with my poor equipment. 

The river is crystal clear and not deep, so it also serves as a nice swimming pool. 

However, in that era, not many people were fond of swimming. Kids were only allowed to dabble in the shallow beach, throwing pebbles across the still surface to create ripples or simply spending the whole afternoon catching small shrimps, snails, and clams concealed under the shallow water. 

We never felt tired occupied with so much fun and pleasure.              
The river in autumn is calm and quiet. It takes on a color of light yellow when the harvest season comes. 

As the autumn wind blows, the withered leaves and stems left their mother plants, flying and floating until they reluctantly fall onto the water surface, making it a river of yellow, red, and brown, which signifies the ending of the luxuriance of summer and the beginning of winter. 

In the old times, the air was fresh and the environment was not yet polluted. The small river was part of the nature. It’s not a difficult thing for nature and human activities coexist harmoniously.             
                     

Winter is a wonderful season for skating. The winter in my hometown is extremely cold; the vast plain is frozen all over, icy and lifeless. 

In the coldest month, thick ice crusts the river, the thickest part reaching over ten centimeters, which provides a natural skating rink for skating lovers. 

At that time, we didn’t have warm clothes, but we were all brave warriors who braved the coldness to participate in winter sports with great passion and enthusiasm. 

Children, big or small, chased each other on the thick ice, teasing and laughing until the sun rose above the mid sky, conveying its warmth and heat to the earth, which made it dangerous to slide on. 

      
Time flies pretty fast. Two decades has passed since I last skated on the frozen brook. Now with the modernization of agriculture and the changes of people’s way of life, that clear river has disappeared from my village; 

what is replaced in its place is a dirty marshland with household rubbish strewn all over. 

There is no fish or any living creature out there and no sheep or cows roaming and grazing by the riverside. It pains me to see the desolate sight. 

Does our economic take-off bring out such a terrible scene? While science and technology bring much convenience and affluence, we humans have also lost a lot of valuable things, such as beautiful environment and simplicity of folkways. 

The young and dynamic river that had been appreciated and worshipped by its people is gone, what is left in my heart is the nostalgic feeling for a bygone time and place—a place called home.  

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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    I enjoyed your thoughts very much. I have been an educator since 1974 and learn something new about teaching everyday. Most enjoyable thing to me as a teacher is when a student who has done poorly, some how with your help a " light" finally burns bright in their mind about learning. When a student sincerely says thank you for all you gave to me, makes my day. Good luck always in your teaching life.

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