Arriving at the door, Fangzheng kneaded some rice grains into a sticky paste to act as glue. He handed the blob over to the squirrel. The squirrel held the glue as he rode on Lone Wolf's shoulder. Fangzheng held the couplets and gestured while he asked, "Is the height okay? Are they a little slanted or are they straight?"
The squirrel measured carefully and instructed Fangzheng, "A little bit to the left, and lift the right side a bit. Stop! That's perfect!"
Fangzheng took over the rice paste and used it as glue to paste the couplets to the door.
The first line went: Kindness is truly Zen;
The second line went: Compassion is also ritualistic.
Summary: Not a monk!
The couplet was taken from others but the summary was his own. Life on the mountain was boring and for someone his age, it was impossible to calm his mind. He yearned for a life away from the mountain where he could experience freedom in the mortal world. He did not wish to be a monk that was constrained to a temple. Therefore, the final summary was added by him as a way to deprecate himself.
As he looked at the couplet, Fangzheng finally got into a festive mood. He chuckled and said, "It looks pretty good."
At that moment, the squirrel suddenly began to squeak.
Fangzheng asked in surprise, "You want a couplet too? I don't even know where your home is. How do I stick the couplets for you?"
The squirrel continued squeaking.
"What? You are moving in here? You have even chosen your nest? What? You want to stay on the bodhi tree? Ummm, I don't think there is a hole up there, is there? Why are you asking me to make a house for you? Why should I?" Fangzheng said unhappily.
Despite his protests, Fangzheng still found a flower pot and tied it to the branch of the bodhi tree.
It was not like he could do anything else. He did not have a hammer, nails or wooden planks. There was no way for him to create a beautiful nest for the squirrel. However, since the little fellow lived in a tree hole, a container would do the trick.
However, why was the little guy glaring at him angrily after he saw his new place? He wasn't even looking at him straight. Fangzheng suddenly realized that he had mistakenly recognized his old chamber pot as a flower pot. He had totally forgotten what it was because he had only used it as a potty a long time ago. He had chosen it because it looked familiar.
However, this was not something Fangzheng would admit at all. If not, the squirrel would definitely leave a few deep scratches on his bald head.
Still, Fangzheng changed the chamber pot for a much prettier flower pot. Only then did the little fellow delightfully squirm in. It jumped on Fangzheng's shoulders. The only thing that kept the squirrel from jumping on Fangzheng's head was his bald head which looked slippery to the squirrel.
That was the first time Fangzheng felt lucky that he was bald...
Now that the squirrel had a home, he had to write a pair of couplets for him too!
Fangzheng tore apart two pieces of the red paper which were about one inch wide and picked up the pen to write. Though the pieces of paper were very small, his handwriting was still very clear and elegant as a result of the Dragon Buddha Epithet.
The first line said: People in prosperity;
The second line went: Squirrels in harvest.
Summary: A squirrel at home.
The little guy did not understand it, but he felt overjoyed nonetheless.
When Lone Wolf saw this, he immediately insisted on a couplet too.
Lone Wolf had been with Fangzheng since before Squirrel, so Fangzheng had already built a wooden kennel for him. It saved him the efforts of making another home for Lone Wolf.
Fangzheng just needed to write another couplet.
But when he did a search, he was immediately troubled! Any mention on the Internet about wolves was derogatory towards wolves. There was nothing nice. What was he to do?
He took a glance at the cute Lone Wolf and said with a chuckle, "Do you recognize these words?"
Lone Wolf shook his head.
Fangzheng snapped his fingers. This made things easier! He produced bold strokes...
The first line read: Lanterns light up Buddhism;
The second line read: The dog guarding the yard.
Summary: Dogs keep thieves away.
After putting up all the couplets, all the red paper was used up.
At the same time, the brush and ink vanished with a flash of golden light.
Fangzheng rolled his eyes and thought, "Do you need to be that impatient? Stingy."
He felt a lot more comfortable after cursing. However, couplets alone were definitely not enough for the new year. He needed to find some color lanterns! But where could he find them?
With a stroke of brilliance, he recalled the old monk's ice lanterns! Inspired, he ran to the backyard and took out a couple of huge buckets, filling two of them.
He also filled cups with water and placed them in the yard.
A few hours later, the water in the buckets had frozen. Fangzheng tapped at one and found it hard enough. It could now be used!
Then, Fangzheng moved the bucket to the kitchen and put the bucket by the fire while spinning it. Soon enough, the ice on the edge started to melt so that he could detach the ice from the bucket.
Fangzheng moved the bucket back in the yard, drilled a hole in the middle of the ice, and poured the unfrozen water away. Finally, he flipped the bucket and placed it on the ground before slowly lifting the bucket.
Once the bucket was removed, an ice lantern in the shape of a bucket appeared! The Unrooted Clean Aqua was so pure and clean that even when it turned into ice, there was still no impurity in it. It looked crystal clear and gorgeous! Unfortunately, there were no chiseled edges. If he could shape it into the shape of a diamond, Fangzheng believed that it wouldn't be inferior to diamonds!
Fangzheng drilled another small hole on the top of the lantern to create an airway. Then, he carried the ice lantern out and placed it on a wall. He chose a candle and lit it before placing it inside the ice lantern. As there was an airway, there was no fear that the candle would extinguish due to a lack of oxygen. At the same time, there was ice surrounding the ice lantern from every angle. There was no need to worry that the flame would be snuffed out by the wind.
Although the candlelight wasn't beautiful, the refraction of the circular ice crystal made it gorgeous. Occasionally, a breeze would enter, causing the candlelight to flicker. The flickering would cause the light outside to coruscate. It was beautiful like a neon light!
It was no surprise that after seeing the ice lantern, the squirrel and Lone Wolf hollered because they wanted one for themselves.
Fangzheng reprimanded in a joking manner, "Both of you want an ice lantern too? Alright, go draw the water yourself!"
They ran to get the water. It didn't take long before the squirrel had a tiny ice lantern made from a small cup in front of his nest. There was a large ice lantern hanging by Lone Wolf's kennel entrance. However, Fangzheng did not place any candles in their ice lanterns. After all, Fangzheng only had a few candles. They could not be used or they would go to waste.
Even so, the wolf and squirrel were overjoyed.
Fangzheng's inner child reared its head. He decided to continue making more ice lanterns to decorate the mountain. It was not like he had anything else to do!
Meanwhile, Fangzheng heard footsteps. He could tell there were quite a few people from the sound.
Fangzheng flicked his sleeves and stepped outside to investigate. There were Wang Yougui, Tan Juguo, Yang Ping, Yang Hua, and Dog Song. A group of men and women had come up the mountain.
Fangzheng was somewhat taken aback. What were they up to?
Turning back time to that morning...
"What are all of you doing?" Dog Song put down his broom and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He walked over and asked out of curiosity when he saw a few tables set up at the village's entrance.
"Uncle, here's the deal. The government is encouraging cultural education in the village. Isn't it the new year? Everyone needs to put up couplets. In the past, everyone would buy ready-made ones, but those are poor at uplifting that cultural atmosphere. We are volunteers from the county's Calligraphy Association. We came here to help everyone write couplets. It's a form of encouraging cultural education in the villages and a way to spread prosperity," a young man rubbed his eyes and said with a smile.