Letter to time

  May people look like people, when the moon is full, wake up
  early in the morning , hear the croaking of a lone crow, and think that you are in a village in late autumn: the sky is gloomy, there are a few wisps of cloud and smoke on the heights of the winding mountain peaks, the trees on the land are gradually dying, the westerly wind passes, and finally The yellow leaves of the trees have lost their sound, and the bird’s nest on the branch is as dangerous as a black prophecy. There was an “ah”, and after a while, there was another “ah”.
  Walking to the window, I saw the stacked buildings outside, all gray, and the trees were overgrown among the buildings, and I couldn’t tell whether it was a pagoda tree or a eucalyptus. The sky was covered with thin clouds, not gloomy at all. On the overpass, the car is creeping. The solitary crow is not seen, presumably it is squatting on the exhaust fan of a high-rise building, or on the viewing lights of a nearby park, or it is just flying carelessly, a black spot goes away and returns.
  This is the Mid-Autumn Festival in Beijing.
  I came back from foraging last night. At the gate of the community, I saw a tall tree covered with red flowers. Some flowers fell to the ground, broke, and were trampled out of the juice. In the twilight, the color of those flowers can still be seen clearly, orange-red, unassuming, as if the exposure was kept as low as possible during the flowering process. I have never seen such a flower in Beijing. I was surprised and thought it should be a flower in the south. Ask the person who sweeps the yard under the tree and reply: “Dog tree, we call it a dog tree.”
  My brain came in handy at that moment, and I quickly realized that it should be a hook tree, or a mulberry tree.
  Most of the time before going to bed, I was tortured by those pompom-shaped flowers: the flowers are on the branches, it must be right, then the sequence is wrong, if the sequence is correct, the place is wrong, but the place must be right, I’m in a community called Fangzhuang in Beijing…
  In the early morning light, when I look at those small flowers, the brightness of the red is much brighter. The flowers are still quiet, hidden among the big leaves, with a few small green fruits beside them. One night passed, and there were more broken flowers on the ground. When I picked one up, the spikes were fleshy and covered with a hard core: like a fruit core wrapped with wool, and then two scissors cut the wool, red The thread ends exploded, and they lost their clues densely.
  Standing under the tree to check the information, it turns out that the little red flower is not a flower, but a fruit, and the flesh grows outside. To be precise, it is an aggregate fruit, the red part is not the pulp, but the corolla, and the fruit is hidden at the top of the red tassel.
  It’s too complicated, beyond the structure of ordinary fruits, and deliberately embarrassing people. I held up a small fruit that was neither a flower nor a flower, and my mind was full of unavoidable twists and turns.
  There are also other flowers and trees in the courtyard of the community, the most conspicuous ones are a few hibiscus and crape myrtle. The flowers of hibiscus make people think of hollyhocks, but once the flowers bloom on high branches, the temperament will be revealed. Hibiscus stands tall and hollyhocks are rough. The fame of crape myrtle probably comes from Ziweixing, and perhaps Bai Juyi’s phrase “Who is the companion when sitting alone at dusk? Crape myrtle to Ziweilang”. The flowers are not very enchanting, the color is flat, the petals are finely divided, and the texture is shriveled. If the crape myrtle flower blooms under the tiled roof, beside the palace wall, or beside the Taihu stone, it may be outstanding, but if it blooms on the street or in the park, it is an inconspicuous flower and tree. A few bamboo trees and a clump of impatiens. The strange thing is that the stems and leaves of the impatiens are all gray and white, as if moldy and have spots, and the flowers are red in color. The water red is a bit rustic, and it is like a good story when paired with bamboo.
  Cicadas chirped and hissed.
  The air is stuffy, as if it has been covered in a big vat for a long time, and now it urgently needs an ax called Qiufeng to split the big vat and bring it cool. Plants also need wind to move their leaves and move their bones. But there was no sign of the wind at all, and no sign of the change of seasons. Summer in the North China Plain dragged its long tail lazily and pressed it on Autumn’s body, like a leather robe.
  If you are on the plateau, if you go back forty years, in a village surrounded by mountains, the sky is already blue and high during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the autumn wind passes through the river valley, and the air is full of the smell of fenugreek and ripe barley. The sun is warm, and the grass and trees on the ground are colorful, the birch is golden-plated, the barberry is deep purple, the spruce is black green, and in the bushes, the small fruits of raspberry and Tibetan sea buckthorn are crowded together. Mother came back early from the fields and was busy in the kitchen. There are two or three catties of fresh pork on the chopping board. The bought zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers have been washed. In the steamer, there are mooncakes covered with flour flowers. If you take off the lid, you will be greeted by the aroma of turmeric, red yeast rice and fenugreek. And scattered. September chrysanthemums and asters are in full bloom in the courtyard. September chrysanthemums are lavender, with vigorous florets slanting on the garden wall, and asters, mainly blue and purple, are willing to be dwarf and lying on the wet ground. I stood under the big green poplar at the door for a while, pinching a few catalpas in my pocket repeatedly. The catalpa fruit stalk is long and thin, and the peel is dark red, sour and astringent after a bite. Sometimes there was a pear in the pocket, the small one with the thick, hard green skin. The shade of the trees is mottled, and yellow butterflies with big fingernails are flying around, but the neighbor’s children are always missing. In the afternoon, the village is silent, the sun is like weaving, the bees are buzzing, and when the geese fly by, the sound of “quack quack” seems to come from another world.
  I continued to go out for food in the evening, but I couldn’t find a bowl of noodle soup. Fortunately, there were fresh figs in the supermarket. Back from the restaurant, walking through the courtyard, trying to look up and look for the moon. The floors are dense, and the sky is broken into small pieces. Moving left and right, the moon is never seen. Later, I finally saw a group of shiny thin clouds. Light clouds cover the shadows, no, it’s the moon that refuses to see people.
  Thinking of a huge full moon hanging in the sky, all the laurel trees in the moon have been cut off, and the clear light overflows all the way to the distant mountain tops. The silver waves on the hillside undulate, the red deer come and go in the forest, the vegetation on the ground shakes down, and the wind is exposed.
  Passing around a gourd, when turning a corner, I saw a pair of young people coming out of the building door. The girl was holding a porcelain plate with a few moon cakes on it, and the boy was carrying a bag of fruit. The two didn’t speak, and walked straight to the place where there were tables and chairs in the yard. The girl looked worried, looking up at the sky as she walked. I couldn’t help but look at them more, thinking to myself: May people look like each other, when the moon is full.
  Gourds vs Zucchini
  When I woke up, I was in a village called Simatai in Miyun. The weather is clear and bright, simply freshen up, and go to climb the mountains near the village. Last night for dinner, there were fresh corn, eggplant, cucumber, green pepper and Chinese cabbage on the table. The owner said that the vegetables were all grown at home and picked fresh. I looked for the vegetable garden in the evening light, only to see the flowerbed next to the house. The flowers and trees in the nursery are luxuriant, marigolds are golden, cockscombs pile up the corolla in nine twists and turns, and the colors are amazing. The petals of Jerusalem artichoke are simple and bright. Even when dusk comes, the small flowers of mallow are still full of energy. Cosmos grew in clumps, and the messy stems and leaves covered the dwarf marigolds. An old man bent down and cut the cosmos down. I feel sorry for the flowers, the old man said, if the broomsticks are not cut off, the flowers underneath cannot continue to bloom. It turns out that people call cosmos broom plum. But we call it coriander plum, mallow as small Shuqi, and hollyhock as big Shuqi. Wang Zengqi once said that people in Shanxi called Mallow as Shu Qi. In fact, we Qinghai people also call it this way. There are dried eggplants on the side of the flowerbed, but the eggplants are not hanging anywhere, nor are there corn fields. At dusk, the hills surrounding the village were green and misty, and I suspected vegetables and corn were grown on those hillsides.
  The morning dew is not yet shining, and the bristlegrass is filled with clear light, bending down its lavender tassels, preventing people from walking. Morning glory actually blooms in four colors. I am no longer surprised by the common deep purple and peach red. It is the first time I see the light blue morning glory. If I look at it a few more times, it is like watching a girl’s light dream. Seeing a milky white with a few lavender on the petals makes people think of Japanese geisha. The morning glory blooms quietly, but the stems always go to the height of the tree. It is a plant that is beautiful on the outside and strong on the inside. Weeds and shrubs are mixed under the slope, and the villagers have reclaimed a few fields among the vegetation.

  A couple is watering. The bottles that had been filled with mineral water were piled up on the ground, and they contained tap water that had been in the sun for several days. Simple farm implements, shovels and hoes. Several common vegetables grow in the ground, such as green hemp leaves, tomatoes, green peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, green onions and radishes. The vegetable field was tidy and tidy, and there was no mess. Even the distance between the green hemp leaf vegetables seemed to have been measured equally. The vegetable leaves are oily green, which shows that the atmosphere of the earth is not exhausted. The ripe tomatoes have not been picked yet, the gherkins are chubby and crooked, the white radish leans its body to the ground, and the scallions are thick and thick.
  A clump of plants grows on the Banpo, with palm-sized leaves stretched out, and white flowers sandwiched between them are quite eye-catching. Asked what it was, the laboring man said it was a gourd. It was the first time I saw a gourd growing on the ground, so I had to study it closely no matter what. I asked again, can I borrow your vegetable patch to see gourds? The woman pointed the way for me to pass.
  Among the tangled trees in Manpo, gourds stand out. The early morning light shone obliquely on the leaves, the green was half-bright and half-dark, with traces of dew and no insects. Its tendrils are raised, the white flowers are quiet, and the tiny flower buds are drilled out of the leaves, still wanting to speak. A leaf was lifted, and a gourd under the leaf was as tender as a drop, only the size of a baby’s fist. Looking carefully, there is another gourd hanging down in the secret place of the leaves. Caressing the leaf surface, it is as fluffy as a pumpkin leaf, but it does not sit on the ground or crawl like a pumpkin, it is just like a green spring, pouring down from the slope, it has an idyllic temperament, but it inherits the mountain Free
  and unrestrained .
  One more question, is this gourd wild? The woman remained calm: My family planted it. It turned out that the gourd belonged to someone. I looked again and walked away embarrassed.
  If it’s a wild gourd, I don’t know how long I’ll be bothering it.
  Never had gourd. To be precise, I didn’t know that gourds were eaten before. I thought gourds were nothing more than cut open to scoop water for drinking, painted with gold and painted colors for offerings, sliced ​​and dried in the sun for pharmaceuticals, iron crutches and plums for pills, Lin Chong for wine, or used to house old immortals who healed diseases and saved lives. One year, I bought a gourd on a small street. I bought it because it was cheap, ten yuan. The gourd was small. On the way home, I shook it and heard the sound of “rustling and rustling” inside, like a bug crawling on it. Run, I really want to cut it open to see what it is. The gourd was taken home and placed on the cabinet. After a long time, it was covered with dust and wiped occasionally. Once, a friend came to visit, saw the gourd, and said, why doesn’t the gourd have a faucet, so I realized that the faucet is important for placing the gourd.
  Eating gourds is something I only learned this year. In a video, the light green gourd is placed on a rotating shelf. The person who spins the gourd shakes the body with one hand and cuts the gourd with a knife in the other. After a while, the long and thin gourd strips are piled up on the ground. While looking at the rotating gourd, I thought about the gourd baby. Seeing gourd eaters too, the girl frowned and exclaimed, saying that it was much bitterer than bitter gourd. I have eaten bitter gourd, and it is much simpler than other bitters I have eaten.
  Zucchini and gourds should belong to the same family.
  Zucchini have yellow flowers, as do pumpkins. The flowers of zucchini and pumpkin are the kind of flowers that do not stop doing two things. Not only do they have a strong color and look like burning, but they also spread to the green leaves, making the green of the leaves embarrassing. They can neither exceed yellow nor keep the green pure. . The gourd is not the case, the white flowers of the gourd and the green leaves are a perfect match: the white flowers are quiet, the green leaves are serene, refreshing, better than the water hibiscus.
  Zucchini we just call it zucchini, which sounds better than a fool. On the plateau, squash melons did not appear early. In the early 1990s, squash and cauliflower suddenly became common. Especially in the county town, in the yard of the unit, there is a vegetable field behind the small one-story house, with various kinds of ladle vegetables, squash, cauliflower, and celery. In early autumn, the coriander blooms fine white flowers, and the cabbage and melon are held out and placed on the ground. The cauliflower is too late to eat, and it grows old in vain. Always wait for the melon to be old before picking it, the gray-green hard skin needs to be peeled off when eating. Cut into thin slices, pour rapeseed oil in a hot pan, stir-fry squash when it is smoking, the seasoning is only salt, and sprinkle some shallots when it comes out of the pan. That kind of vegetable melon is rusty and sweet, like the pumpkin I ate later. The rapeseed seeds are drying on the window sill, they are a little dry, and they are no longer slippery to the touch, just pinch a grain and chew it raw. The vegetable melon seeds have the taste of lettuce leaves. After eating a few seeds, I don’t want to eat them anymore.
  Over the years, I seldom see that kind of old melon again. The current vegetable melon is so tender that water can be squeezed out, and the outer skin cannot be touched. I have learned how to make several kinds of vegetable melons, and I miss the old ones, and I don’t miss them either.
  Ginkgo Fruit On a summer day
  five or six years ago, under a thousand-year-old ginkgo tree in Longquan Temple, Beijing, I was covered in a thick shade, and my thoughts were scattered: “The dead are like a husband, and they never give up day and night.” Why must it be time? Time is time, things are things, and time is for watching the fun, not knowing the pain, and having nothing to do with right and wrong. “Personnel is metabolized, and the past and the present are made up.” In front of time, people are so humble. They don’t know that they are deceived and used by time, and they still pretend to be sentimental, and so do things. But the ginkgo tree in front of you, do you think it is time?
  Longquan Temple is being repaired, so I can’t enter the main hall, walk a few steps, turn back and continue to look at the ginkgo. The thousand-year-old ginkgo has a pale face and an ancient appearance, with a sad and pungent taste. Look closely at each leaf, but it is flourishing, a kind of beauty that has never been seen before or since, which reminds people of the purple valerian jacket and the scarlet skirt unearthed from Tomb No. 26 in Bijiatan, Gansu. I remember it was the Silk Museum in Hangzhou, and I stood in front of that skirt for a long time. A person who dresses unisexly and becomes obsessed with a dress for the first time. Look closely at every detail, step back and play with the color matching, and imagine the woman wearing this dress back then, “A piece of fragrant silk scattered on the ground, and the jade hairpin fell silently and greasy.” I can’t get enough of it. , take a photo. Ginkgo biloba leaves are like that song skirt, which makes people daydream.
  I have always thought that in late autumn, I will come under the tree to see the yellow leaves and ginkgo fruit falling to the ground. If I can pick up one, I will ponder it for a long time.
  In August and September of the Renyin year, he went to several hospitals in Beijing, and later stayed in Fangzhuang, waiting for an examination result. I used to be afraid of blowing on the air conditioner, but I didn’t get scared, this time it’s different. Carry a thick woolen shawl with you, and put it on in a hurry as soon as you enter the air-conditioned room. So careful, a hot cold will still bring people down. After lying in the dark for two days, I suddenly thought it was time to go back to the plateau. The older you get, the more empty your heart will be when you leave the plateau. In the winter month of the Yihai year, I clearly felt this when I was in Sanya. Sanya in winter is impeccable, looking at the sea, watching flowers, sitting on the balcony to enjoy the breeze, watching big birds flying into the room. However, the heart is empty after all, and the corners of the earth are sad. Until I returned to the northwest, got off the plane, breathed in the cold and dry air, and saw the desolate mountains stretching around me, my heart suddenly brightened. This time too, I stayed in Beijing for more than a month, as long as a year. After buying the air ticket and recovering a little bit, I decided to walk to Liulichang to see cloisonne.
  There is only me and a female librarian in the Cloisonne Pavilion. The female librarian followed each other not too far away, a little embarrassed, looking for words with each other. There are several pairs of cloisonné lions in the exhibition hall, gorgeous and charming, especially a little lion, squatting in the corner, wearing a bell around his neck, stepping on a lion cub, the cub was trampled so painfully by it, its mouth was open, and it was asking for help. is cute. Wandering around the lions, I want to carry one back on my shoulder. I also thought it would be unsightly for a woman to carry a lion on the road, so I had to give up. Go upstairs, buy a cloisonné owl, put it in the palm of your hand, and walk back.
  Still walking, mobile phone navigation. After walking a few steps, both mobile phones and people seem to have problems. Lost at the intersection, tossing left and right, and when I found a familiar exit, ginkgo suddenly
  greeted me all .
  It is the ginkgo on Fangcheng Road. The ginkgo tree has not been planted for a long time. The tree is only one story high, but the leaves have turned yellow. Other trees on the side of the road are still green and verdant, hibiscus and crape myrtle are still blooming, and ginkgo seems to be unable to bear the procrastination of summer and bring autumn colors in their hands. That kind of bright yellow, mixed with some orange red, transitions from the edge of the leaf to the center, like a green folding fan approaching the fire, accidentally igniting the flame, hurriedly extinguishing it. There are also a few plants, the leaves are all yellow, and the wind and water bloom among the branches in autumn.
  At that time, the setting sun had fallen to the top of the building, and the red light scattered in the western sky was beautiful. In the hazy halo, there are people riding electric vehicles home, buses with their headlights turned on, and slow-moving cars. The way home is always in a hurry, and the day’s work is not over yet. In such a flowing and turbulent atmosphere, a tree of ginkgo with yellow leaves stands quietly, looking over, suddenly there is a kind of “red leaf maple forest falling wine flags, the setting sun is faint on Baishazhou Zhu; a few soft oars, beyond the vastness, where is Jiangcun?” The vastness of “people return at night”.
  A ginkgo fruit fell to the ground, and I picked up a handle to play with. The two fruits are opposite each other, like a pair of small animal ears. Ginkgo fruit, also known as ginkgo, is edible and used as medicine. If there is a pot stove in the place where you live, you can pick up a few more, peel off the pulp, wash the core, spread a layer of salt on the pan, put ginkgo nuts, and then spread a layer of salt, roast them, and eat slowly. Of course, when peeling ginkgo fruit, you have to wear gloves. Ginkgo fruit is slightly poisonous, and it is not good to be poisoned. I have eaten salt and pepper ginkgo before, a small plate, like a clean offering, but it is too salty, just
  taste .
  Once, I listened to a lecture by a Chinese medicine doctor who said that for patients with chronic bronchitis, it is good to eat some ginkgo fruit at ordinary times, but not too much. Seven pieces a day is the best. Tie up the envelope, put it in the microwave, heat it for 20 seconds, take it out and eat it.
  If microwave ovens are a tunnel to a strange universe, not long after, beings on some planet receive an ancient letter containing seven ginkgo fruits. It didn’t know what to do with the ginkgo fruit, so it pinched it with its claws, bit it with its teeth, cut open one, looked at it with a biological magnifying glass, and then carefully put it away, waiting to be cracked. This process is fleeting, but it takes thousands of years.
   Li Wanhua is a member of the Chinese Writers Association. Published prose collections “Golden River Valley”, “Western Wind News”, “Bingshen Year”, “Mountain Birds Passing the Court at Twilight”, “Mountain Views” and so on. His works have won the Prose Award of the 18th Hundred Flowers Literary Award, the 2nd Qinghai Literary Award, and the 7th and 8th Literary and Art Awards of Qinghai Provincial Government.

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