個人資料
正文

Another Mid-Autumn

(2021-09-25 08:59:29) 下一個

With age, Bill has gravitated toward a quiet curmudgeon. The sapphire sky and

soothing breeze of the California coast that attract tourists of the world 

often depress him. He reminds himself to be thankful but seems to have run out

of gratitude after living in the golden state for 15 years. He starts to blame

the weather, by being perfect, for calling up his personal failures and flaws 

and suggesting that he might be undeserving.

 

Many believe that life consists of a series of happy events, or that ideally

it should. Over time, they develop abilities to ignore evidences to the

contrary so completely that they are no longer capable of appearing sad. Bill's

reality, however, seems made up more of miseries and disappointments. It is as

if there were a filter in his brain where happy moments are quickly forgotten

and almost all the things he has learned have come from painful experiences. It

might even be a deep-seated inferiority complex. In a perfect world, natural or

artificial, he just doesn't feel fit.

 

It was mid-autumn and again instead of travelling back to Beijing he had to settle 

for WeChat calls. Aunt assured him that she was doing fine, although a second

hemorrhagic attack had led to short-term memory loss. Bill had nothing to say. 

For years, he had tried to enjoin folks away from sugar and white flours. In his

mind, they were the root cause of all their problems. Everyone listened and

even agreed but no one followed through. He would have made a fool of himself

if wrong. But what if he were indeed right? It was no consolation to keep the

truth and watch loved ones perish. It felt hopeless.

 

A call from his graduate school buddy, Lei, stirred Bill's imagination. Growing

up in the northern Wanda Mountains, Lei told the story of his parents whom Bill

met during the couple's visit to Beijing 25 years ago. In their 80s nowadays, the

two had remained in a small town on the Chinese-Russian border. Fit as a fiddle,

they led an active life and spent a good part of their day in the hills.

 

The vast northeast was left behind in China's decades-long economic boom. For

the forest region, where Lei was from, the lumber industry that used to host

the largest reserve in Asia and supply the construction needs of the whole

nation evaporated after preservation policies took over in the mid-90s.

Generations of young people since had left for the south for jobs and the

local decline was painful to watch.

 

Of course, the weather is to blame the most. Winter lasts six months and night

life only exists for a few weeks in a year. Mother Nature here flouts capitalism.

 

Life in the nation's economic backwater, however, has its unique appeal. The

dwindling population are not farmers as large pieces of arable land are only

available in the plains down the Wusuli River. After lumber, their main income

comes from gathering. Nature has blessed the area with bountiful wild edibles:

fern brakes in the spring, golden oyster mushrooms and lingzhi in summer, pine

nuts, lion's mane, hazel mushrooms, and late fall oysters, and even certain

lingzhi in the long winter. Lei's cousin, WenJie, gave up her job in the city

two years ago, went home, and became an e-tailer, selling dried and preserved

wild foods from the mountains.

 

How nice! Bill thought. The 30-below winter alone would make him happy. The snow

would give him something to do with his sedentary body. The freezing cold would

make mere surival a triumph worthy of celebration. All beautiful in his mind.

[ 打印 ]
閱讀 ()評論 (2)
評論
7grizzly 回複 悄悄話 回複 '暖冬cool夏' 的評論 : Thank you, 暖冬, for liking Bill's stories. I suspect that Bill was not terminally
depressed but he had the habit of over-thinking and wouldn't settle for an
answer. I hope you are right and time would make him wise up and stop all the
nonsense ;-)

Medicine is like a crutch to Bill. Once on it, his theory goes, one is as
institutionalized as the prisoners of Shawshank. Better trust the power of the
human body itself and try to live a healthy lifestyle.
暖冬cool夏 回複 悄悄話 I love reading Bill's story, and as always it is well-written.
Older than Bill, I think I understand his sentimental feelings, as I have mine once in a while. Bill is comparatively young, and remember what I once said that "life starts anew at 50s":))
Hope Bill's aunt could recover well. At her age, medications may work more effectively, from my mom's experience.
登錄後才可評論.