Wenhui ‖ Looking for Spring

One Spring Festival, I was sitting in the courtyard of my hometown in Shandong, leaning under the warm wall and squinting in the early spring sun. Both parents have gone out. The yard was quiet, and occasionally I heard a sparrow’s excrement, which landed on the dry phoenix tree leaves with a click. The wind passed through the treetops, tiles, low walls and incense stands, and slowly landed in the silent courtyard, jumping on the shadow cast by a peach tree, making a slight hissing sound, like a snake walking lonely under the leaves.
On the far avenue, there were women’s laughter. But I don’t care about that. They are separated from the outside by a wall that is warm in the sun. I only care about the sparse impressions made by the tall buttonwood in the deep blue sky. They are the blood vessels in the sky. In the crowing of roosters, they suddenly realize the arrival of spring and gurgle out the energy stored in the whole winter. Sitting in silence, I seem to see thousands of trees between heaven and earth, spreading thick branches, transporting blood from vigorous roots to every tip that is infinitely close to the blue sky. My sense of smell brushed away the dust on New Year’s Eve and smelled the simple and abundant breath of spring. The breath starts from the small courtyard, from the tops of poplar branches that are beginning to show green, from the tentacles of an ant whose probe is just visible again, from the lively wings of sparrows, and flies along the alleys to the vast fields. There, the creeping wheat seedlings are shaking off the snow, turning the thick dark green into fresh light green. The old man who came back from the door coughed gently and turned to his own field, just like a poet, watching the waking earth with deep affection. He will spend the four seasons in this land that belongs to him. At this moment, spring, the beginning of the four seasons, has just begun.
Another year’s Spring Festival, I was in Hulunbeier snowfield. Grandma said: Come on, let’s go out for a stroll. As a matter of fact, there are no streets to visit in the snowfield. But in the eyes of grandma, this world, which wraps the whole town like amber, is full of delightful scenery. Spring seems to be far away from this land. But the winter, which lasts for half a year every year, has not stopped life here. Everything is like the spring-like south, moving forward in an orderly way along the established track that was formed thousands of years ago.
We passed a racecourse and saw herds of horses bending over the thick snow, looking for grass stalks forgotten in summer. They cast a quiet and calm figure in the dazzling snow like gold. A mare with a purplish red color raised her head from the snow, gently rubbed the neck of the child beside her, and made a gentle neigh. Its hair is thick and luxuriant, its figure is vigorous and handsome, and because of this maternal love from the inside out, it radiates holy luster in the crystal falling snowflakes. When we walked away, we turned around inadvertently and saw that it had melted into the horses. Like a drop of water, it melts into the sea of Wang Yang. At that moment, the snowfield was clean and beautiful, just like a baby coming to the world.
Passing by the railroad tracks, I saw a hare whizzing past us and then disappearing into the vast snowfield. Only messy footprints showed that there was a clever life passing through here. Grandma said that sometimes, in the silent night, wolves will be heard. But wolves are not as terrible as people think, and herders are used to their figures and desolate howls. Instead, the sheep in the pen will subconsciously shiver and get closer to each other. Occasionally, there will be fiery red foxes passing through the uninhabited snow, and boldly stop and stare for a moment at the town where the smoke is curling. Knowing that the warmth of the world has nothing to do with themselves, they turn around and run towards the depths of the snow field.
Langta, the sheepdog who followed us all the way, had a thin ice on his face because he wheezed. People who walk on the vast snowfield have a warmer heart because of the company of a dog. In fact, my grandmother and I always remind each other in surprise when we encounter a little imprint of life from nature. For example, an empty bird’s nest, a tree that has not yet surged green, a river flowing under a thick ice layer, a cow drinking alone, a camel walking slowly with its owner, one or two lambs walking together, grass stems that have sprouted snow, withered flowers that have not yet fallen to the ground, and thin vines wrapped around people’s fences. This is the life closest to spring in the snow and ice. Everything is like water under the ice, seemingly silent, but it exudes ancient and poetic vitality.
Perhaps, on the Hulunbeier snowfield thousands of miles away from spring, it is precisely the existence of such vibrant life and the things that never disappear in nature that inspire and agitate mankind, so that people can walk in the frozen spring every year, but they can keep their courage until the fascinating summer arrives.