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Nostalgic Memories of Childhood and the Old Well in My Hometown

  In the deep nostalgia, there are always some things that are rooted deep in the memory like tree roots, and among them is the old well in my hometown.
  My family lives in the middle of the village. There is a well behind the village and a well in the south of the village. The distance between the two wells and my house is almost the same, but I don’t like the well behind the village because the well’s head is too big, and it would be difficult for an adult to draw water at the well’s head, which is even more dangerous for me as a young person. But I like the well in the south of the village very much. This well is very old and no one can tell the exact year of its creation. I also roughly know its extraordinary life experience from the incomplete wall tiles on the well wall. Some of the bricks on the well wall have turned greenish-brown under the wash of time, and their edges and corners have been rounded, just like some people. Experience has made them smoother; some have missing edges and corners, just like people. Some parts of the well have deteriorated with age; others are deeply sunken into the walls of the well, with birds living inside. People who get up early to fetch water disturb its dreams. It would swoop out of the well and disappear in an instant. I also like this well because there are two ancient stone tablets lying across the wellhead, which makes the wellhead look very small and delicate, just over one foot square, so I can easily step on the wellhead to draw water without fear of falling. Go in.
  When I returned to the village when I was twelve years old, I became involved with this well. At that time, I was too weak to lift a bucket of water, so I had to work with a neighbor of similar age to pick up half a bucket of water and carry it home. At that time, the water surface of the old well was very shallow, and the water could be pulled up with a pole or a well rope. During the rainy season, these were no longer needed. The water in the well was basically at the same level as the well mouth, and the water could be scooped up from the well with just one hand.
  This well in the south of the village is right in front of the village office, where the flour mill and the educated youth point are located. Meetings were extremely frequent at that time. These factors have kept this well alive in the bustle. Maybe this is why I like it. Another reason.
  The location of this old well is so good, but its water is not drinkable. It can only be used for washing and rinsing, and for livestock to drink. I know that it is not easy to get water into the house, so I often carry a washbasin and clothes to the well to wash them. At that time, I was wearing a light-colored female military uniform with large lapels that my aunt passed down to me. I had short black hair on my head and my face was always red. The militiamen who held meetings in the office always mistook my gender because of my attire. They said they had never seen a boy doing laundry.
  At that time, there was a saying about the well of bitter water and the well of sweet water. The water in the old well near the village is not drinkable, so it is called “bitter well”. Drinkable water was found in a sweet well six or seven miles away, which tested my physical strength and will.
  On the old road of Zhanghe River in the west of the village, there are green trees and two sweet water wells lurking here. Interestingly, although these two sweet water wells are located 500 meters apart on the old course of the Zhang River, their water quality is different. The large well in the north has abundant water, which is used by hundreds of people in the village to carry, pull and carry it every day. It constantly provides people with the source of life, but it rarely dries up. The water quality of the small well in the south is better. People say that the boiled mung beans in this well can cook and blossom, but the well in the north cannot. However, this small well has a small water source and is supplied rationed every day. If you go there late, it will “go out of business.” .
  The water in the old well has a characteristic, that is, it is “hot in winter and cool in summer”. In winter, hot air is always spraying from the wellhead, rising and misty, and the water that comes out is warm, which is very suitable for washing vegetables and clothes. In summer, the well water is as cool as the heart, refreshing your heart and lungs with just one sip. In the hot summer, the most refreshing “drink” is “well pull the cold water”. If someone brings or carries water from the sweet well, they will greet the neighbors: “Drink! The well pulls the cold water!” At this time, some people bring big bowls, scoop out a bowl of Gudong Gudong and drink it all in one gulp; others soak the washed melons, melons, and cucumbers in a water tank, pickle them at noon, and eat them cold. It’s crispy in the middle and very refreshing. When the captain takes us to work in the fields in the morning, he often picks two big watermelons and throws them into the well. Until noon, hunger, heat, and fatigue were eating at us alternately. At this time, the captain took out the watermelon, smashed it open with his fist, and gave each person a large piece. It’s refreshingly cool and refreshingly sweet. The taste still makes people drool just thinking about it!
  We should not pay attention to the saying in the countryside: “There are toads in the wells and maggots in the sauce.” When we hauled and carried water, there were more than one toad floating in the old well. Hearing the sound of the bucket, they dived into the water with a swish, and then came out again after a while. At that time, it was common for people and frogs to drink water from the same well, and they would not care about it. Thinking about it now, it was really a helpless choice. Modern young people would never drink water like that.
  Half a century later, modern water supply equipment replaced the old wells in my hometown. Laojing has nurtured generations of hometown people and infiltrated one piece of hometown after another. After fulfilling its historical responsibility, Laojing has returned to the depths of history. I’m afraid it will be difficult to see its beauty and appreciate its taste.