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A Year in the Countryside: A Memoir of Simple Living and Contentment

  I lived in the countryside as a child, and when I grew up, I always missed the days in the village. “The green trees border the village, and the green mountains are sloping outside. Open the pavilion and the garden, and talk about mulberry and hemp over wine.” The scene described by Meng Haoran, a pastoral poet of the Tang Dynasty in “Crossing the Old Friend’s Village”, often comes to mind in his spare time. . Therefore, living in the village became my pursuit and yearning after work.
  Haikou is a small coastal city. During the first few years on the island, due to the weak economic foundation and the inability to buy a house, Haikou had to rent a house. There is a section of fishing village life that is quite unforgettable.
  The workplace in the early years was close to the harbor, and beyond the bridge was a low-rise fishing village. Based on economic considerations, one weekend not long after I started working, I rode an old bicycle and drove leisurely across the cement bridge across the bay next to my unit into the fishing village. Without much effort, I rented an extra bungalow from a family. At that time, all the belongings could be packed into a canvas bag and carried in one hand. Early the next morning, I carried my home on my bicycle and faced the rising sun and “settled” in a small fishing village, becoming a non-staff “fisherman”. The landlord’s surname is Chen, a native local resident and a family of five. Except for grandma, everyone can communicate in Mandarin. The family is warm and simple. The two old men cook and take care of the children at home. The two couples have their own division of labor. The man leaves early every day and returns home late to go fishing, while the woman sells goods at the stall early in the morning. Soon after moving in, our relationship became very harmonious. On weekends, I will go to sea with Brother Chen. His family is a diesel engine ship that cannot go out to the open sea. The operating sea surface is limited to the Qiongzhou Strait, and the fish, shrimps and crabs caught are also small. We set off by boat without waiting for dawn, and the sun was already shining when we arrived at the intended sea surface. I helped Brother Chen straighten the fishing net with white floating balls tied to it little by little, and he put it into the sea in an orderly manner. At noon, when I was sitting on the bow of the boat eating salted fish porridge to satisfy my hunger, I really experienced the scene described by Hemingway in “The Old Man and the Sea”. The waves rippling on the sea reflected on the face, not only making it difficult to open one’s eyes, but also feeling bursts of burning pain. Closing the net is the most surprising moment. With the roar of the machine, the fishing net is winched little by little from the sea water. The fresh fish and shrimp are hung on the net and we collect them all. The joy is beyond words.
  It is often late in the evening before we return home. Brother Chen drove the boat, and I sorted and barreled the caught seafood. It was already time to turn on the lights when we got home. Brother Chen asked his wife to pick out some fine products from the seafood he brought back and put them into the pot. A sumptuous dinner was presented in front of the family. While eating and chatting, the feeling of home emerged spontaneously.
  During holidays, I and several teenage children in the village would bring plastic buckets and long-handled iron clamps and row the boat to the bay to catch the sea. When the tide goes out, patches of rocks and beaches are revealed. Some fish, shrimps, crabs and snails that were too late to retreat were stranded on the rocks and puddles of varying sizes. Children who grew up in fishing villages have nimble hands and feet and sharp eyesight. Even fish and shrimps hidden deep in the beach can be dug out and put into buckets.
  After returning to Hunan to work, my workplace was close to the edge of the city. When I went out for walks in my spare time, I could often feel the breath of nature blowing against my face. Growing up in the countryside, I am particularly fond of the earthy fragrance that permeates the air.
  Happily, village life finally became a reality one day. After being introduced by a friend, I rented a mountain farmhouse on the outskirts of the city at a very low cost. The landlord’s son runs a business in Zhejiang and is doing well, so he wants his parents to live there. It is difficult to rent out a house in the countryside, so I want to find a down-to-earth person to live in the house and take care of it, and pay them a nominal fee. Although I already own a house in the city, I couldn’t resist the temptation of country life and became a tenant in this house.
  I love this secluded place. It is surrounded by mountains and rivers, with lush vegetation. There is a spacious cement floor in front of the house, a vegetable garden and fruit trees behind the house, and simple neighbors around it. At that time, my daughter was not in school yet. I drove her to the local kindergarten every morning, and then listened to Bandari’s ethereal music all the way to work. When I got off the evening shift, I drove back with food. I picked my daughter up and went into the house to turn on the lights. My heart was filled with joy. Comfort and comfort.
  On weekends, we leisurely tended the vegetable garden left by our landlord, and my daughter also helped pull weeds and water the garden. It is summer when there is sufficient sunshine and rain, and various vegetables in the vegetable field are growing gratifyingly. In addition to eating it ourselves, we also picked some to give to colleagues and friends. One day I took my daughter to the town market. The dazzling array of supplies and food on the market aroused her interest. When she saw the piles of vegetables for sale on the ground, we decided to set up a stall to sell vegetables next time. Thought: “Dad, we also have a lot of vegetables in our vegetable garden, and we can sell them here!” My daughter’s childish voice brought back my memories. When we lived in the countryside during our childhood, it was a common thing for us to go to the market and set up stalls to sell vegetables. In order to experience a long-lasting life, we picked some seasonal vegetables from the vegetable garden on the morning of the next market, put them in vegetable baskets and brought them to the market. I found a gap on the side of the crowded street, unfolded the plastic mat, and placed green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, loofah and other pollution-free vegetables one by one, experiencing the joy of my childhood.
  As the Romans do, we later used the landlord’s chicken coop to raise a few chickens. Get up early every day and let them out, sprinkle a few handfuls of corn kernels bought from the supermarket on the ground, fill them with drinking water in a wooden basin, and let them move around freely. When you come back in the evening, sprinkle a few handfuls of corn. After the chickens have eaten and drank enough, they will consciously enter the chicken coop one by one before dark, which saves trouble and worry. We raise the roosters until they crow and the hens until they lay eggs. The days when we spent our spare time raising chickens, farming, and reading in both sunny and rainy days have left a deep memory in our lives.
  What is particularly unforgettable is that one day I got off work late and it rained heavily when I picked up my daughter. On the way home, I saw a pair of small animals crouching out of the roadside under the headlights of my car. They honked several times and refused to move away, so I had to get out of the car in the rain to drive them away. My daughter also took the opportunity to get out of the car and help. But instead of leaving, they approached us, looking like they were begging for help. I caught one of them and looked at it through the car lights, only to see that its little face, which was wet with rain, had multiple bloody mouths scratched by thorns. At my daughter’s request, we brought the animals home to feed them. After getting home and changing clothes, my daughter got busy. She used an electric fan to dry their hair, then took out milk and poured it into a bowl to feed them one by one, and then applied anti-inflammatory ointment to their wounds.
  After receiving treatment and being fed with milk and porridge, the two little animals quickly recovered to health, with bright eyes and soft and shiny fur. I took the photo and sent it to the zoologist at Hunan Normal University via WeChat. He determined that they were two wild lynx cubs and suggested releasing them into the wild. My daughter didn’t agree at first, but after repeated communication, we went to the pet store to inject the two little cuties with rabies and antiviral vaccines, and then released them while my daughter burst into tears. The next day, at the suggestion of my daughter, I bought some cat food, opened it and placed it in the place where the wild bobcats were released.
  Living in the countryside for more than a year has brought us into a beautiful state of contentment. We worked in front of and behind the house and sang on the edge of the fields, as if we were living in a world where poetry and painting blended together.
  In fact, everyone’s attitude towards life determines his lifestyle. The life I understand is to do what you like within the limits allowed by laws and regulations. Life is not about climbing over mountains, diving into the depths of the sea, or comparing ourselves to each other. Love what you love without asking anything about things; don’t be confused by money, and don’t be burdened by fame and fortune. This is a happy life.