I lived in a small town in the northeast of Inner Mongolia province, named Jagedaqi (加格达奇), before I entered the elementary school. It’s located at the foot of Xing’an Mountains. Although I had lived in there so many years, I was too young to travel around. I could hardly remember what the town looks like until one summer a couple years ago, when I got a chance to visit it again.
When I was on the running train towards Jagedaqi, the only thing out of the window was the meadow. Occasionally, I could find some boys riding on horses. Only hundreds of meters away from me, they were running, shorting, pursuing each other to pursue pleasures. I thought that it’s a perfect dream for every boy. The feeling on a horseback must likes flying. On the infinity meadow nothing can hold them back. They can just enjoy the speed, the freedom on the horsebacks. For the same reason, boys in the city like driving over speed. But that’s not a good idea. It’s too dangerous.
Another wonderful sight on the meadow I have to mention is the river. River on that plain never flows straight. It always turns from one side to another again and again and marks its course by a winding silver line across the landscape. Especially, when the sun was falling down to the skyline at dusk, millions of golden light spot will twinkled here and there on the meadow, just like the gorgeous starry sky.
The scenes suddenly changed when the train was near to the mount area. Small hills emerged. I only saw the small hills even after I’d arrived the town, as I have said it just at the foot of Xing’an Mountains. After I’ve climbed on the top of one hill. I found the town basined by a round of small hills. It’s just at the bottom of a basin. But at the north direction, I saw some huge mountains. They’re too far from me. I though I had no chance to achieve them this time.
Snows covered the Xing’an Mountains in about 7 months each year. I like the elegant movements of the snowflakes when they are falling down all day long and all nigh long. The world became extremely bright after snow. It seemed only one color remained, white. Every mountains and meadows were panted with white. And every sound was muffled. What a silence it was. When you walk on snow-covered ground, the only sound you can hear is you own steps.
Yes, the snow is beautiful, but the life in winter is really hard.
First of all, we always worried about what to eat. There were few choices of food in winter. We Chinese separate the food as staple and vegetables, meats, fishes. Before I was a teenager, the main staple food was corn. Then, rice and wheat began to instead of the corn. In my memory, there was one period that our only food was corn. Finally, I came to the end of my endurance. So, I swore that I would never eat the corn again if I could leave that place. I have some cousins in Wuxi. They liked corn very much. However I explained, they just couldn’t understand why I hate such a delicious food.
All vegetables are stored in the autumn. Only Chinese cabbage, potato and radish can be stored for such a long period. Each fall, my family bought 300 to 500 pounds of Chinese cabbage and several pounds of potatoes and radishes and stored in the cellar. Not only our human beings but also other creatures such as squirrels, ants and bees used the same way to survive from those freezing days. But the conditions are much better now days. Thanks for the developing of market economy and modern traffic method, more and more south agriculture products were sent to north in the winter. We have much more choices now.
Winter is also a trouble for traffic. When snows covered the ground, the road surface would be too smooth for the vehicles. The bus companies would suspend their business. And if the wind was also too strong for us to ride bicycles, we would have to use our primal method, to walk to the schools or the offices.
The snowstorms are dangerous. Most peoples lived in Qiqihar can remember the day, April 29th, 1984, when a terrible snowstorm attacked us. At the morning, lots of peoples lived in the signal-story house found that they just couldn’t open the door. Then they found their houses had been surrounded by snows with had a deep of more than one meter.
One of my friends once told me about his story in that horrible day. He was an eight-year-old boy at that time. When he finished hi class, he decided to walk home. The snows on the rode were already quite thick. They covered the dykes besides the rode. Suddenly my friend fell into one dyke and his whole body was immerged in the snow. However he struggled he just couldn’t climb out of the dyke. There were few people staying out side, so no one noticed him. When his father went to the school to pick him up, the teacher said that boy had already left. The father was very scared of the teacher’s words, because he didn’t meet his son on the way he came. So he and the teachers begin to search on the roads between his family and the school. When they found my friend, he had already been numb with cold. Fortunately, it was not too late. And he finally recuperated.
Not all peoples had been frightened by the storm. One of my uncles was on the way home from another city by train. At that morning, the train had to stop in a distance of tens of miles away from the downtown. Most passengers chose to stay in the carriages and wait for the rescue. But some strong young men and my uncle were very excited. They thought that it was god-given opportunity to prove their strength and courage. So they jumped out of the train and spend a whole day on walking home.
All the stories about the storm were heard from other peoples. I have totally forgotten it. I had asked my father what I was doing in that day, why I couldn’t remember any thing about the storm. Then, he said: “Oh, you were very happy that day. Your classes were suspended because of the storm. You were very glad to play at home with some neighbor boys.” Aha, here is the conclusion: Peoples tend to remember the pains but forget the happiness.