The Seventh Original Writing Competition
Senior High School Group
Written by Yang Mei,
Ning Shaan Middle School, Ning Shaan County, Shaanxi Province
Date: October, 2019
I carried a travelling bag, shuttling through the crowd in the station. Behind the train window in winter, a little person was missing the faraway little home.
The frost flowers and flying snow in front of people made them deeply feel the incoming winter. It is drawing near silently.
Fortunately I could go back home on an investigation trip. On my way home, I grasped the ticket I just bought firmly and came to the ticket gate after shuttling through dense crowds of people. I walked through them in beautiful school uniform, a little prominently. I just couldn’t help being excited about going home. The train started. Rank upon rank of buildings were moving backward rapidly. With chin on my hand, I was looking at the scenery along the way while my heart had already gone to the little village from which the smoke from kitchen chimneys were rising up in the air.
There were about twenty passengers on the train. Although they were all locals, they looked a bit familiar and also strange to me. Once they started talking, a familiar dialect was slowly flowing out of their mouths. Hearty laughter and cordial chat made the carriage a lively place. A couple that gave birth to their child at their older age was holding their son who looked like having a fever. Probably because they were quite old and in poor health, they were having a little train sickness. Passengers at front seats and back seats offered to hold their child one after another. The faces of the old man and woman were lit up with a grateful look.
Out of the window, the scenery was still the same. There was no luxury and dissipation, nor scene of debauchery, but there were people holding big bowls and eating in front of low bungalows, people swinging an axe to chop firewood, and people poking baskets of fermented soya beans with chopsticks. They were simple and enthusiastic. They were having a leisurely and comfortable life of slow pace. When it came to the upstream of the dam, the narrow stream became wide. On the broad lake surface, ducks were floating quietly on the still water. Sometimes they lowered their heads to take food. Sometimes they smoothed their feather. The water was running under the lake but it looked calm on the surface. A gust of wind flew across and stirred the pool of crystalline water. Although it’s already winter, there were still little glistening yellow persimmons hanging on the black branches on the roadside. On the branches, they were alone or in groups, bustling with life. The process from green to yellow, from astringent to sweet, and from hard to soft, is it the same with the vicissitudes of life?
The train came to the section I was most familiar with of railway. All I saw were familiar houses, familiar streets and alleys, and familiar faces. Finally I got off the train. The village in early winter looked particularly lonesome. A jackdaw was landing on a branch in the distance. Its sad cries made me feel somewhat sentimental.
When I got home, my nose was filled with a sweet scent and light aroma of wine. I sniffed deeply. It’s still the old flavour. My parent would make rice wine every year. Every time they would steam a big pot of rice first and then cool it in a basin. My yearly routine was thumping the caked wine balls with a little hammer. The bag containing the wine balls would be broken if I beat it too hard. But if the strength was not enough, the grains would be too large. So I would hammer them very carefully each time. After that, the wine ball powder was sprinkled evenly in the basin. If you pour it out in a sudden, a powder smog would form that you couldn’t open your eyes. Then it would be sealed with a transparent preservative film. My parents would always put it in the quilt that was already warmed by an electric blanket. It hankered after the warmth of the bed like a sleeping baby. Winter is the best season to drink rice wine. After the stewed porcelain basin was uncovered, the room was suffused with the bouquet of wine that was slowly fermented with tender feelings in the air. A spoon of wine was spooned into a ceramic white-ware bowl. Rice formed into small clusters that looked like agate to stay warm. A pot of hot water was put aside. When the pot handle was held up and tilted down a little bit, the water was pouring down like waterfall and broke up the clusters immediately. Some bubbles were floating to the surface. Under the touch of water, Clearly distinct grains of rice were gently overflowing in the bowl. It’s like a jade comb in shape and as white as a piece of jade. It’s as thin as a cicada’s wings and as sweat as honey. A few wolf-berries were thrown into the bowl. They fell into the bottom slowly just like autumn leaves and the red sun, withering quietly and drifting around. Rice wine is not as strong as spirit and not as exquisite as red wine. It’s sweet and mellow, intoxicating and fresh but not strong. This was the flavour of home I had been missing for so long.
I walked and passed by the Lion Bridge again. I hadn’t returned home for a long time. The stone lions were clothed in red blankets again. This was a cultural relics protection site located at the entrance to the old street of salt store. Two stone lions were standing at each side of the bridge end. It seemed that they were looking at the pedestrians or gazing into the distance. With its head tilted to one side and curved eyes and eyebrows, the stone lion on the left side was sticking its tongue out. The stone lion on the right side was looking at the right side with a slightly opened mouth. I seemed to hear its hearty laughter. It seemed that they were also whispering. After all, it’s been hundreds of year, they only had each other for companion. The bridge gallery was a regular strip frame shape. The tilestones were cut very evenly. People came to the Lion Bridge to pray almost every day. The place before the stone lions was where they planted the incense. People prayed and told their good wishes to these stone lions.
A day passed in a flash. In the morning when the sun almost rose, I got on the shuttle bus again. When the bus was climbing up the ridge, a light snow was falling. When the dark cloud was first formed , snow pellets were like tiny spots. Soon after that people heard them sprinkling over the window. I was lying in front of the window, trying to look at this gentle world that had become a vast expanse of whiteness. The snowflakes were like willow catkins, reed catkins, or dandelions. They were flying, fluttering, and dancing, just like thin wisps of smoke and dense fog. They jumped on the window glass and left a kiss mark in a hurry before they floated away gracefully.
Further and further away, I went. I didn’t know where the feelings arose, but I was passionately devoted. This little person was still homesick. Did you know? Did you know? The scenery of hometown were still the same as before.
Expert comment 1
A trip to the writer’s hometown in winter. The winter snow along the railway was mingled with memories. The writer describes various local specialties and inner winding remembrance. Various tastes of life on the train are written. The structure is neat and orderly while the language is elegant and fluent.
Expert comment 2
The structure is complete. In the first paragraph centering on winter snow outside the train window, simple local customs and practices and geographical landscape are described through dynamic vision of the writer who is returning to homeland. In the second paragraph centering on winter snow on the hill side, the warm and sweet atmosphere of home in winter is created via olfactory sensation. In the last paragraph, the writer describes history and culture of hometown including the Lion Bridge, old street of salt store, century-old town that are standing peacefully in the winter snow. Ordinary scenes of life in the writer’s hometown are all written in the article. The language is elegant and beautiful. The words are mild but the affection is deep.