The Sixth Original Writing Competition
Primary School Group
Platinum Award

Written by Luo Wenhan,
The Affiliated Experimental Elementary School of Bazhong Normal College, Sichuan Province, China 
Date: May, 2019


It is a common saying that “The mountains of Emei and the waters of Jiuzhai Valley” are the most beautiful. But, in the southwestern corner of my hometown of Bazhong there is a body of water surrounded by mountains that is beautiful beyond measure. This is Shanshuihua Lake – a true “ink wash painting come to life.” The green-blue mountains appear as if pulling upon a massive lake. Beneath the heavens, she is like a glistening blue gem.

Once you’ve crossed that section of road marked by modern, moon-shaped streetlamps, you have entered Shanshuihua Lake District. The newly built narrow asphalt roadway that encircles this lake is hemmed in on both sides with verdant trees seemingly eager to reclaim that ribbon of black. Some stretch out with expectant arms; others droop softly downward. On the mountain side of the road, are patches overflowing with a cacophony of colorful flowers – some pale yellow, others lavender, still others pure white. They bloom with such carefree abandon, enjoying the moment … none wanting to fall behind. I marvel at the pristine greens and delicately charming flowers. I open my mouth wide and take a deep breath. Even my soul is touched by the flowery aromas that linger in the air. Ahh … each breath fragrant beyond measure – an intoxicating experience! I wish I could transform into a Tao’tie (mythical beast) and fully engage in this feast for the eyes and olfactory. No … but I’ve neglected the auditory experiences. Oh! From where comes this vernal birdcall? I follow it for a while, but to no avail. Its call is all I have. This place is wonderful, with no birds to care for yet birdsongs aplenty to fill the ear.

This small road ends at the glimmering waters of the lake. How could I have left without touching her waters? Hugging my father, I board the small boat. We shove off, heading toward the opposite side of the lake. The water surface is capped by delicate swells. They move by us in a cadence reminiscent of a slow-motion film scene. The crest of each wave, as white as snow, glistens so magnificently in the sunlight. We stop for a moment in the middle of the lake. Now, even the waves seem to have disappeared. The lake’s surface is as smooth as a mirror. It is like the poem: “A boat crossing blue waves; Passengers wandering an artist’s canvas.”

Taking advantage of this pause in our journey, the waters around us came alive with fish. Some jumped high out of the water, seeming to be saying to us – “Hi!”; others were carrying sticks in their mouths. Could it be they were building a nest? Still others clustered into small groups, seeming for all the world to be convening secretive meetings. What could they be planning? 

After the boat turned around and we began heading back, I saw upon the waters a magnificent sight. It was nearly noon and the rippled surface of the lake had been transformed into a field of glinting ‘diamonds’ that shimmered and danced under the noonday sun. I reached out my hand to grab a handful and, when just within reach, they vanished from sight, like a mischievous little dolly playing a game of hide and seek with me.

Plunging into the innermost, forest-shaded reaches of the lakeshore road, the red bridge spanning the lake’s narrows hove into view. This fiery red bridge was stunningly inlayed into a setting of forest green and framed by a backdrop of steel-grey mountains and a foreground of willow tree groves. She was the “red dot amidst a mighty green forest.” Her red frame reflected on the mirror-like waters below, looking for all intents and purposes like a pair of red, impassioned eyes. I stood; words failed me. A breeze caressed the surface of the lake churning up line after line of ripples, making it look as if the bridge was now winking its eyes at me. Does she like me? I wondered. The mere thought excited me! I ran toward the bridgehead and shouted to that great expanse of water. I’m here! 

Dad said this bridge was built only recently. Yes, I could see it still looked quite new. Today, Shanshuihua Lake is a heavenly sight to behold. But my father remembers a different time, a time of lament. Back then, this river blocked our way to town, requiring us to make a long detour to the nearest crossing. One of my greatest desires as a child was to take a boat to market. I could almost see myself back then sitting in ragged clothes on a boulder, looking plaintively out across the river toward the land beyond. On the other side of that river was a mouthwatering scallion pancake beckoning me to come. It was a frivolous desire.

I felt a rush of sentimentality and an affinity for the “isolation of Bashan and Chushui” felt by Li Xian, the heir to the throne of the Tang Dynasty, during his banishment here. He too once sat atop one of these peaks in Bazhong and looked forlornly in the direction of the capital Chang’an. In the eyes of poets and princes, Bazhong was where one goes to experience the nadir of life. It was then I remembered: the character ‘ba’ traces its origins to a pictograph of a giant snake. Thus, could ‘Bazhong’ denote a place where poisonous snakes roam? So, my ancestors here were truly far from the light of civilization. 

Dad seems to have gotten wind of my thoughts. He said, “Let’s go take a look at some of the industrial parks in the area!” From the car, I could see both sides of the roadway lined with these parks, each separated by grey cement roads running straight as an arrow in between. Some had newly transplanted trees, while others were covered in newly planted grass. Not far from these parks, I could see row upon row of two-story homes, some with a car parked out in front.

The grey mountains have tinted green the waters of this lake, while lake waters have bled into those same mountains. Shanshuihua Lake is blessed by the affectionate embrace of mountains and water. A painting in need of no further embellishments, she warmly reveals her charms to the world.

Reviewer 1:

1,Stunningly beautiful Shanshuihua Lake is Bazhong City’s most magnificent natural scenic attraction. The author describes a boat trip he took with his father out onto the lake, enjoying the ‘banquet’ of sights, smells and sounds there. Being immersed in this ink wash painting pleases the soul. The red bridge on the lakeshore roadway that bridges the two banks has not only improved transportation in the Bashu area but also carries the author’s childhood hopes. The author strikes an emotional chord in recalling the poets of old who once found themselves here, far from their beloved capital city. Today, modern development has brought all closer together and opened up the opportunity to appreciate the aesthetics of Shanshuihua Lake.
2,A light and natural descriptive essay of natural scenery with clever metaphors, a deft writing style, and lively descriptions.

Reviewer 2:

Describing scenery in ink wash paintings requires exceptional literary skill and rich descriptions. This essay breathes vivid, immediate life into this scene using direct descriptions, metaphor, and personification. Historical references and changes across time were introduced. The description of glinting waves added a touch of classical elegance and richness as well.