Following that, Yang Ping, Yang Hua, Wang Yougui, Tan Juguo, and company ran out. The entire village, be they young or old, male or female, stood outside with their heads looking up into the sky. Although they were excited, all of them held back their emotions. In the northeast regions of China, the weather was as prone to changes as the northeasterners themselves. There might be wind and lightning, but it would not necessarily rain. It could have dark clouds covering the sky one moment and suddenly turn bright the next. Therefore, before there was rain, no one felt certain that the rain would actually come.
On Mt. One Finger, Fangzheng stood in the yard with Lone Wolf, Monkey, and Squirrel with their heads looking up. At that moment, Red Boy’s voice sounded in Fangzheng’s ears, “Master, the wind has come and the clouds are gathered. Do you want it to rain now?”
Fangzheng pressed his palms together and sighed, “Amitabha. How good indeed! My dear disciple, let it rain.”
The next instant, there was rumbling thunder as a huge downpour happened. As the rain pattered the dried earth, it sent dust stirring into the sky. After a flash of lightning, a pungent smell emanated throughout the air. However, people greedily sniffed at it. It was comfortable! It was cool. It felt great!
The dark cloud covered a very extensive region, covering even several of the nearby villages. Once the downpour came, countless people ran out into the streets to celebrate. Some even began clamoring about buying beer and holding a dinner feast for the family to celebrate.
Some people were overjoyed, but there were people wallowing in sadness too.
The weatherman, Li Ze, of the weather channel was having a breakdown. According to all existing data, the drought should have lasted at least one and a half months! For that, he had written a report of 13,000 words! The senior executives had taken a serious look at this matter and had held meetings for three days to discuss an action plan. Even the county mayor had sought help from the higher-ups for funding. Just as a grand movement to transport water to save the farms was about to begin, it rained
Li Ze gulped a mouthful of saliva when he saw his boss’s office in front of him. He gritted his teeth before walking in.
His colleagues outside immediately heard a roar like an earthquake with a magnitude of twelve on the Richter scale was occurring, and they all shook their heads.
Although the rain had come, this drought had been a warning sign for all the villagers. If they continued drawing water, true drought ensuing would only be a matter of time. They had to take preventive measures.
For this, the entire village held a grand Villager Gathering. Finally, everyone agreed unanimously to stop planting wet crops or draw water unnecessarily. Instead, they would put all their efforts into cultivating the bamboo forest.
Fangzheng smiled when he heard the news. He spent a few days to help the mother bamboo spread its root network. Although the Frost Bamboo at the foot of the mountain was incomparable to the one on the mountaintop, even the worst Frost Bamboo was much better than the bamboo sold on the market. It would not be difficult for it to benefit One Finger Village.
After a few consecutive days of downpour, the underground water table was replenished. Similarly, the Frost Bamboo grew rapidly after the rain and began occupying a huge area. Meanwhile, large swaths of tourists came to visit the bamboo forest and to eat bamboo shoots. The villager’s old carpenter used bamboo to make little trinkets, and they were surprisingly well received! Many people soon began to learn his craft.
Tan Juguo even invited a master that was skilled at creating bamboo products. He taught everyone how to make sleeping mats and other bamboo products, bamboo charcoal, etc. Instantly, all the villagers were involved with bamboo. Although they were slow at learning, the Frost Bamboo grew very quickly. It was perfectly capable of providing for the villagers’ wastage.
Meanwhile, Yang Ping split the bamboo forest into grades. The bamboo furthest from Mt. One Finger was of the lowest grade and the one on the mountaintop was of the highest grade. The bamboo products were made from the prettiest and most perfect bamboo. They were like jade, and demand completely outstripped supply! A bamboo mat’s price could rise to as high as three thousand yuan a piece!
Instantly, all the villagers turned envious. However, everyone knew that only a limited number of the bamboo on the mountaintop could be hacked. They could only be used as cornerstone treasures of their stores to attract more customers. If they really wanted to earn money, they had to rely on the bamboo at the foot of the mountain. For instance, some people left the village to learn the art of making pickled bamboo shoots. The entire village seemed to strive for excellence almost instantly. Few people spent their time playing cards. Few people squatted out on the streets to banter in their free time. Instead, they discussed about the different crafts.
And these changes took only half a month.
Fangzheng was overjoyed seeing the changes the villagers were undertaking. There was nothing happier than seeing the people around him lead happy, blissful lives. Of course, the neighboring villagers were envious too but unfortunately, this all eluded them. Fangzheng was unable to help them even if he wanted. The Frost Bamboo had grown to its limits, and its roots could not spread any further.
As the days passed, Fangzheng did a count of time and realized that there was a festival the next day!
“Disciples, tomorrow is the Dragon Boat Festival,” said Fangzheng after having his meal.
“What’s the Dragon Boat Festival?” Lone Wolf, Monkey, and Squirrel had no concept of the festival. Their minds were only occupied with the bustling Spring Festival, the fireworks on the fifteenth day of the New Year, as well as the solemn Tomb-Sweeping Day meant to commemorate one’s ancestors.
Before Fangzheng answered, Red Boy was already shaking his head, “I told you guys a long time ago. If you have nothing to do, learn some new things. You should study some vocabulary too, alright? The Dragon Boat Festival is a festival meant to commemorate a human hero. However, that’s unimportant. What’s important is that the Dragon Boat Festival has lots of fun and good food to eat. Things like dragon boat racing, the eating of dumplings”
Fangzheng struck Red Boy on the head, “What do you mean it’s unimportant? The Dragon Boat Festival is a festival to commemorate a human hero. Nothing is more important than commemorating and learning from our forefathers’ spirit.”
“Master, since it’s a commemoration, why is there the dragon boat racing and the eating of dumplings? Why isn’t it like the Tomb-Sweeping Day?” asked a curious Squirrel.
“There are many reasons. The Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Double Fifth Festival or Duanwu Festival. Different places have different traditions. The earliest origins stem from the land of Wuyue. On the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year, the locals had a tradition of racing dragon boats as a ritual for their tribal totems. And the ancients liked to describe the first five days of a month with the words ‘duan.’ Hence, on the fifth which is ‘wu,’ we have the Duanwu Festival.
The land of Wuyue is where the Ancient Yue people originated from. They held the dragon in high esteem and called themselves the children of the dragon. They would carve dragons on their boats as totems to pray for peace and good luck. Legend has it that when they visited family, they would use their canoes that were carved with dragon patterns to go back and forth. Occasionally, they would compete at speed and gradually, it turned into a form of celebration. It was also a way of displaying one’s strength. That is the origins of the dragon boat. Later on, after changes that stretched out across time, it became a dragon boat race.
As for the eating of dumplings, it has to do with the Warring States Period. The ancient state of Chu had been defeated when a man named QuYuan1jumped into the Miluo River while holding a rock as an act to prove his loyalty. Later on, in order to encourage such loyal cadres, the kings connected the Dragon Boat Festival with Qu Yuan, making it a festival to commemorate Qu Yuan. In order to commemorate Qu Yuan, the commoners would wrap glutinous rice in leaves of reed, lotus or banana and throw them into the river, hoping that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body. This is also a way for people to commemorate and hold a memorial for loyal subjects as a form of respect.