a speck of dust among flowers

  During the pig-killing season, my female classmate Hong Yan bought half a piece of pork, marinated the pork in the kitchen, packed some for me, and asked me to pick it up on the phone.
  In the rural areas of the north, as soon as the winter moon enters, it is the season for every village and every household to slaughter pigs and sheep. It is best to have the first snowfall in the sky, and the river will be covered with a thick layer of ice early in the cold weather. Pig killing has become an important life ritual for farmers who have been busy for a year before the new year. In the foggy morning, there was movement in the yard. It was the father talking to the pig butcher. The people who came in and out sent in gusts of cold wind. It was no longer warm to curl up in the bed, so I just got dressed and got up. . There was already a circle of people around the pigsty, most of them men. They tied the pigs to be slaughtered to flatbed carts and dragged them to the communal building, where someone had already boiled several large pots of boiling hot pig water. A pig weighing three to four hundred catties was slaughtered. Then it was washed and washed, and the trough meat was cut off and stewed with vegetables for the villagers at noon that day.
  In the afternoon, my father was still at the wine stand supporting the men who came to help, and after my mother cleaned up other things, she began to burn the fire and refine the meat wholeheartedly. The fire was burning in the hearth, licking the bottom of the pot. In a large iron pan, steaming and fragrant, the pork cut into small pieces by the mother was squeezed and shiny. Mother reached out and sprinkled a handful of salt, first to make the meat taste better, and most importantly, to allow the refined meat to be stored for a longer period of time, at least until the next summer.
  After many years, I still remember the scene of the steaming heat and fragrance filling the room next to the stove. I teased Hong Yan: “Are you afraid that the technology of cured meat will be lost in the hands of our generation, so learn the skills in advance?”
  She laughed and said, “That is, do you know how fragrant it is? The room is filled with the smell of childhood .”
  Yeah, it’s definitely a tongue-in-cheek memory that exists in the childhood shared by our generation. In the northern countryside in my childhood, there are yellow canals flowing slowly, lively open-air movies in the summer yard, slingshots made of tree branches, shuttlecocks made of feathers, and people looking forward to The thought of growing up early also has the old house with low eaves that I can never go back to and the warm and hot Kang that is connected to the stove.
  When I went to the normal school, we were both sixteen or seventeen years old, and we lived in the same dormitory, and she lived in my upper bunk. It was the first time I left home to live in the campus, and I was so happy to be casual. It’s just that the school cafeteria has clear soup and little water, and we who are growing up can’t eat enough and get hungry quickly, so we soon get tired of the food in the big cafeteria. Girls are born to live. When they go home on weekends, they use large and small bottles and cans to bring food that can be stored for a week to the dormitory. Meat sauce, pickled vegetables, chicken and duck eggs are all there. Cooking a handful of noodles in a small electric pot and pairing it with the meat sauce made by my mother is also a delicious meal.
  On a snowy weekend, Hong Yan came back from home, still carrying big and small bags. As soon as she entered the door, she pretended to be mysterious and told us that she brought food that we couldn’t think of.
  Opening the lunch box, it was full of freshly baked marinated pork. Because she wrapped it tightly with a cotton pad, the temperature of the meat did not drop during the two-hour journey back to school. The moment the lid was opened, a long-lost fragrance permeated the small dormitory.
  ”My mother picks all kinds of meat from the pot, and she only picks this kind of thinner crispy meat, saying that it is the most suitable for us as an after-dinner snack.”
  That evening, six people in the dormitory ate half a lunch box of dark pork meat. While eating, the few people tried their best to recall the first snow in their childhood, the river covered with a thick layer of ice, the harsh winter in the northern countryside and the scene of slaughtering pigs. That afternoon, what we put into our mouths and chewed slowly was not the crispy or soft fried pork, but the childhood we would never go back to—that evening many years ago, we all sat at the stove The audience undertook the task of cooking the fire for the mother to refine the meat. As a reward, the mother picked a piece of fat and thin meat from the boiling oil pan from time to time and sent it directly to the burner’s mouth.
  ”That kind of taste, I will never forget it for the rest of my life.” Hong Yan raised his head and said with a lot of meaning.
  Hong Yan was admitted to Wuhai Normal University from a remote school in Hainan District of Wuhai City. She won the title of Wuhai City’s No. 1 Female Scholar in the city’s junior high school graduation exam where we competed for fate together. She has good academic performance, easy-going personality, and is more mature and stable than us in every aspect. Living in bunk beds, we have a lot of daily communication. I remember one time, when talking about the difficulties of her parents, she leaned out half of her body from the upper bunk and said to me: “I really admire my mother, she can swallow any hardship, and bear any sin… One day we will all get married , will be a mother, and I hope I can be stronger than them by then.”
  I don’t understand her thoughts at that moment, but I think, no matter what, we must live a more exciting life than the previous generation.
  Facts have proved that after graduation, she lived a more exciting life. She was still eager to learn after work and marriage. After graduating from graduate school, she was not satisfied, and she was studying for a doctorate at Shaanxi University. She was also selected, and came to a school in Kangbashi, Ordos a few years after me as the principal. I once helped her to proofread a collection published by the school. Between the lines are the teachers’ philosophical thinking on classroom teaching and their love for education, which should be directly related to her personal leadership. Because neither of us has relatives here, we each regard each other as real sisters and cherish each other. I often go for a walk, play ball, and chat with each other for a while, warm and gentle, and feel at ease and satisfied. She is only a few months older than me, and after years of precipitation, her personality has become more stable, she doesn’t speak loudly, and she doesn’t rush to judge things.
  After being separated for several years and getting together again, she still looks like a sister. In the summer when my son entered the third year of high school, in order to rent a house to accompany her to study, she accompanied me for a whole afternoon under the scorching sun. During the period, she insisted on renting the house in the community where she lived.
  ”You run around, it’s inevitable that you have something to do. The rented house is close to me, so I can take care of your son.”
  At that time, she didn’t transfer here for a long time, and the school was full of work. I think she needed to work harder to Stand firm on your own feet, how can you have time to take care of trivial matters.
  ”Trivia is life. Don’t worry, I can tell you this because I have the ability to balance work and life,” she said.
  Indeed, after renting together, I had the opportunity to get to know her more deeply.
  Success in her career does not prevent her from being a good housewife in the family. Her child has excellent academic performance in the second grade of high school, and his personality is as calm as hers. When we are together, we seldom discuss other things. We mainly focus on educating children, and talk more about reading and writing, cooking in the kitchen, learning from each other, and encouraging each other.
  She told me many times: “The fireworks in the world make us more feminine.”
  After work, I walked to her house to get meat. Open the door, the couple are busy in the kitchen. It turned out that she had to go to Guangzhou on a business trip for more than ten days on Monday afternoon. Considering that her husband was busy at work and her son had to eat on time, she was afraid that her husband would work overtime and have other things to do. Hong Yan and her husband made noodles one by one. , steamed steamed buns and flower rolls, baked cakes for the remaining noodles, and even rolled out the noodles that my father and I had eaten for a few meals and divided them into bags.
  The room was steaming hot, with the sweet and glutinous aroma of flour wafting. I always thought that only housewives who know how to make pasta really understand the taste of life. The kind of kneading after soaking, the kind of white mist that refuses to disperse for a long time when the lid is lifted, are the fireworks passed from my mother. warmth.

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