The First Original Writing Competition
Primary School Group
Sun Ying, Guozhen Central Primary School, Shaanxi Province, China
Date: Oct, 2016
Treading across the morning dew, I bask in the embrace of happy chirping birds, invitingly refreshing floral aromas, and invigoratingly crisp, clean air. After walking for slightly more than half an hour, my mother and I finally arrived at our family’s mushroom farm, which lies in a basin behind our house. Dad grows mushrooms here mainly because the area is protected from the wind and it gets just the right amount of sunlight. He has also strung a shade tarp across several of the big trees there and enclosed the growing area using several lengths of tarpaulin in order to help the mushrooms grow healthy and strong in nature’s nourishing and warm embrace.
Opening the tarpaulin, I see a landscape carpeted in a kaleidoscopic variety of mushrooms. Some are thin and graceful, like the slim figures of young maidens; others are stockier, like the majestic frames of the Heavenly Kings of Chinese mythology; while still others have just broken ground, giving the appearance of newborn infants. Growing horizontally, crooked, bent, or bunched up against one another, they give every appearance of being a close-knit, loving family – the envy of all around.
After resting up a bit, Mom and I began our work. Initially, I found it to be a nerve-wracking challenge. The mushrooms I picked were either breaking off or crumbling in my clumsy hands. After trial and error, I came to realized that the art of mushroom picking required more skill than strength. I came to understand that mushrooms could be removed from the soil by separating them at root level and then pulling them up in the direction that they were growing. Otherwise, these firmly rooted mushrooms would not surrender easily in one piece.
Our family’s mushrooms were still growing brilliantly even though we were in the depths of winter. I couldn’t help but think of the wintersweet, which is also at its most prolific during winter. The pine, standing tall and strong against the incessant onslaught of cold and snow, reflects a spirit that is truly rare, and genuinely admirable. Extending this analogy to our own experience and learning, how many people, coddled in climate-controlled ‘greenhouses’, shun the challenges necessary to better themselves, shrivel at the slightest reproach or bump in the road, and whittle away their precious youth? As for those who diligently learn and progressively improve; have not all made themselves ideally positioned to grow and thrive despite the harsh realities of life and to be uniquely able to face the bitter ‘baptism’ of existence? Therefore, we must learn from the mushroom; learn to survive through the cold … learn to overcome ourselves to grow and to contribute to the betterment of others.
Days fly by, never to return. Chilly morning gives way to the day and day melts into yet another sunset. Mom and I set our heavy packs filled with mushrooms onto our backs and set out under daylight’s lingering embers. My heart is bursting with joy as I step onto the road that will take us home.
1. The author uses her eyes, senses, and soul to describe her family’s mushroom cultivation endeavors in brilliantly insightful detail. Furthermore, she employs her rich imagination to describe the mushrooms that she sees: “Some are thin and graceful, like the slim figures of young maidens; others are stockier, like the majestic frames of the Heavenly Kings of Chinese mythology; while still others have just broken ground, giving the appearance of newborn infants.” Her descriptions flow both naturally and vibrantly.
2. Picking mushrooms reminds the author of the ‘spirit’ of wintersweet and pine trees, which reflect well upon the theme of this essay as well as encourage her to extrapolate these analogies to postulate that only those raised in difficult environments are able to face and overcome difficulty. The author appreciates the ‘lesson’ of the mushroom and takes this lesson to heart.
The clean, elegant narrative anthropomorphizes mushrooms in a lively, natural, and very fresh way that brings a rich, new perspective on mushrooms and how they are harvested while evincing welcome humor and wit.