Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Four seasons: Memory ingrained in my flesh and blood (written in 2000)

My early childhood memories begin and end with nature. There were no toys or television sets available in our small village; so we had to go out to play with other kids in the rice fields or on the little plateau of the small mountains in front of our village. I have so many beautiful memories about these early days. I would like to describe how we played in nature according to the seasonal change. In spring we have a very mild weather, which naturally calls our minds into the rice fields, the hilly small mountains and orchards and vineyards. Usually we play soccer on the low plateau or sometimes on the rice fields. Often times we play other kind of games that has to do with the ground. Another time in spring we go out to the mountain or orchards to find a bird’s nest or sometimes to put a trap in between the fence trees to catch a wild rabbit. At another time we shoot birds with a handmade wooden rubber shooter (sling shot). This very primitive tool cannot kill birds but at most hurt them maybe. Still at times we just play on the grass by wrestling with one another. As is often the case, one of our tasks as a rural boy is to feed rabbits or oxen at home, which means we have to collect various plant foods from the nature. Those good plants for rabbit and oxen can be obtained in the edges of the unpaved rural pathways, of riverbanks, small fords, rice fields, orchards, and so forth. But sometimes we take our oxen to the good places to feed them.

In summer we go to a river to swim or to fish. We have a shallow river a mile off from our village. We all kids love water. Nobody taught us how to swim, but we learned. We go fishing at times to the rivers and ponds. On some rainy nights we stay awake to catch lots of fish. In autumn we help our parents in harvesting rice, apple, grape, pear, watermelon, and many other produces. In the middle of dark night, sometimes we crawl under the fence of the small watermelon field to pick and eat watermelon. When winter comes, we go to the small mountains to hunt rabbits by chasing them through their footsteps clearly marked on the snow. We also do sledding at a small hilly mountain, using a small plate put on our hips. At other times, we go to the frozen rivers or the ponds to enjoy skating or to break ice (risky play) in the middle of the ponds.

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