Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
The seasons in northeast China were easy to distinguish. The northeastern spring was filled with a tender green, while its weather was mildly warm. As the snow and ice melted, all life would return. It was filled with vibrancy and beauty. However, it was accompanied by the spring rain. The rain would mix with the melted snow to form mud that absorbed large amounts of heat, especially when the snow was only just beginning to melt, which caused the temperatures outside to be quite unstable. Even though the sun would shine brightly, the weather still gave one a chill if one wore little.
Summer was the same in the northeast as in the south. There would be a dark green color everywhere, and together with the sun and hot temperatures, one was easily left lethargic.
Autumn was different. The air was refreshing and pleasant, and there was little rain. More importantly, all sorts of fruits were in season. A golden world together with golden sunlight made the world extremely beautiful!
With food to eat, interesting things to see, and excellent weather, what else could be better than autumn?
As for winter, it was ultimately a little too cold.
As Fangzheng took in the beauty of autumn, he felt extremely comfortable. He made an armchair and placed it at the mountainside of Mt. One Finger. Sitting there, he let the wind blow at him as he watched the sunrise. The clouds in the sky gathered and dispersed while hurtling through the sky. As the fiery ball of light rose, it burned the sky red. On the mountain, there were trees with golden crowns and at the foot of the mountain, green waves passed through the plantations as the wind blew through them. As Fangzheng listened to the farmers’ laughter while they brought in the harvest, he felt relaxed. The feeling was marvelous.
The eighth month of the lunar calendar was already the end of September. With October coming, the day for the autumn harvest was approaching.
“How nostalgic.” Fangzheng could not help but sigh as scenes of his days with Zen Master One Finger during the autumn harvest flashed through his mind.
Fangzheng fished out a green winter cherry. He used a small stick to puncture a tiny hole in the place where the winter cherry was attached to its stem. He then squeezed out the seeds and juices in a gentle way to ensure that its skin wouldn’t be damaged. When all the seeds and juices were let out, Fangzheng placed the winter cherry by his mouth and gently blew into it. The skin bloated up and as he blew, a unique melody played.
This was a toy that Fangzheng had played with when he was young. He did not have many toys as a child, so everything he could play with were things around him which he had modified. The willow tree whistle in spring was one such toy. Same for the winter cherry.
After blowing twice, Fangzheng put away the whistle and planned on flaunting it to his disciples.
Suddenly, Red Boy ran over. “Master, Master. Someone came to deliver wedding sweets.”
Wedding sweets? Was someone getting married? That was good news. Fangzheng immediately got out of his chair and returned to One Finger Monastery with Red Boy. Indeed, he saw a man standing at the monastery’s entrance from afar. Fangzheng was immediately overjoyed when he saw that.
Standing by the door was a man in his fifties or sixties. He had a head of white and had deep wrinkles. His eyes were recessed deeply, making him appear very old. However, his entire body was exuding joy. Clearly, he was very happy. Fangzheng knew him. He was not from One Finger Village, but from the neighboring Hongtang Village. His name was Zhao Baolin.
Zhao Baolin was famous in the area. When he was young, he had been particularly good at taking on hard labor. He had been willing to work hard, which had improved his family situation. He had later gotten married and had a son, making him the envy of many.
Unfortunately, fate had his son born a deaf-mute. This vexed Zhao Baolin terribly. Hence he went to seek out doctors from all over, leaving for half a month, and by the time he returned, his hair had turned completely white. He looked aged and had spent most of his money without finding a way to cure his son. Thankfully, although his son was deaf-mute, he was not a fool. He helped out with the farming at home and was quite capable. However, what could he do if he left the farming village? Zhao Baolin was vexed over his son’s future and lost his drive. Instantly, his family fell off the path towards prosperity.
It was common knowledge in the area that his son was deaf-mute. In addition, Zhao Baolin was poor, so who would marry their daughter to his son? Therefore, things only got worse.
Thankfully, Zhao Baolin finally seemed to have extricated himself from the trauma in the recent two years. He had begun working hard again with his son’s future in mind. Their days slowly turned for the better as they began to have some savings. He often said, “No matter what, I have to leave something behind for my child, or I’ll depart uneasily.”
No one had high hopes for his son, believing that his son, Zhao Yuhe, would never find a wife.
Even Fangzheng shared the same thoughts. After all, they were in a small area. There were few people to begin with. If they lived in a huge city, they could find another handicapped person who might be willing to spend her life with Zhao Yuhe. But it was difficult in the village. Besides, there were more men than women. As long as the woman had passable conditions, she would be wanted. Zhao Yuhe did not have money or anything else except his disability. The chances of him competing with others to get a wife were slim.
Fangzheng never expected that Zhao Baolin would be the one handing out wedding sweets! From the looks of it, Zhao Yuhe had found a bride, or Zhao Baolin would not be so happy.
Zhao Baolin immediately ran over when he saw Fangzheng from afar as he roared with laughter. “Abbot Fangzheng, my Yuhe is getting married the day after tomorrow! You must come.”
Fangzheng was taken aback. “The day after tomorrow? So fast?”
Zhao Baolin said, “It’s not that fast. They have known each other for more than two months. We’ve been to their house, and they are quite nice people. However, their daughter still needs to work. Her family conditions are… Sigh. To be honest, they’re better than mine. Yuhe sure is a lucky child to find such a good wife. We are also relieved. All the preparations are already done, so all that’s left is the wedding.”
When Fangzheng heard that, he was happy for Zhao Baolin. He immediately said, “Then, I really have to congratulate you.”
“Abbot Fangzheng, you are famous in our area. When the day comes, you must come,” said Zhao Baolin.
Fangzheng nodded immediately. “Amitabha. Patron, don’t worry. This Penniless Monk will definitely be there.”
“Great, I’ll be going then.” Zhao Baolin bode Fangzheng farewell and left.
Fangzheng was also happy for Zhao Baolin as he watched him leave. Zhao Baolin used to give off a dispirited look, as though he was perpetually asleep. But today, he looked like he was on stimulants! Fangzheng preferred such a Zhao Baolin. Humans had to live like they were alive. What was the point of being a living person if you lived like a corpse?
“Master, does that mean we can have a great meal the day after tomorrow? The chef Yang Hua hired last time cooked really delicious food.” Squirrel immediately came over and reminisced while rubbing his belly.
Fangzheng struck him. “All you know is to eat. Zhao Baolin isn’t Yang Hua. They don’t have the money to hire a chef. However, we can join the bustle and see what a wedding is like in the mortal world.”
“Is that so? Without food, my interest has halved, though,” mumbled Squirrel.