Having her friend show her her lovely hometown, spending a day, away from the noises of the city, translated…
I’d Finally Understood, Why Every Year, So Many School Teachers Fought Hard to Get Stationed Away, and Yet, She’d Chosen, to Remain in This Place………
Arriving at This Small Town, Surrounded by the Beauties of Nature
She had, seduced me with the simple and beautiful words, “It’s quiet here, the skies are, reflected in the waters, do come to Shuanxi to visit!”
This visually impaired music instructor had originally suggested a route by Ke-Hsiang Liu, a passage of eight kilometers total, with the smoother roads, less traffic, fitting, for the nature walk of a visually impaired individual. But before we set out, we thought, that the path was way too short, that we should, extend our trip to the nearby Wantan Hiking Pass, and we’d selected a time, when she didn’t have any classes.
On this day, the sun shone, I’d turned left after I exited the station, passed two creeks, and arrived at the school where she’s teaching. I took out my phone, planned to call her up, but, a message showed instead, “I’d smelled the scent of the fresh flowers early in the morn, saw that golden ray of the sun, with my expectant heart, waiting for you to come; this small excitement carried me through my morning classes………”, sounds so much like being in love!
This was the second time we’d met up. Being trained as an opera singer, she graduated, top of her class, had even performed in the national music hall! I don’t know how we’d become, the best of friends, perhaps, it’s something we sensed about one another, that’s locked deep within both of us, I suppose!
a place all your own, that you belonged…not my photograph…
She’d packed up, checked for her cane especially, “I heard there were snakes, and I shall scare them out, by hitting around in the grass,” she’d stated.
She grabbed my elbow as I’d guided her on, this was, the standard way of a seeing person, guiding a visually impaired person. We’d exited the school, she knew the way well, pointed forward, introduced me to that ice shop; as I smelled the scent of something stewing, she’d told me it was a buffet; on the streets, people would come up to say hi, “where are you headed?”, “did you eat yet?”, we’re, just about to, eat our lunch together.
The shop owner knew her well, or maybe, the entire town knows her too, she’d taught here for seventeen whole years to date! As were having our noodles, she’d gotten some grease on her hands, she’d gotten up, walked to the sink in the kitchen on her own, the owner of the shop took the time, guided her hand to underneath the running faucet, as she finished cleaning her hands, she’d felt around the tables, and came back to our table without any trouble; all of these movements became, this small dining scene.
We got on a free bus by Shuanxi train station, the bus sped toward a winding pass up the mountains, I looked out the window, the hills and mountains are, overlapped in shades of green.
living close to nature’s creations…photo from online…
We’d originally agreed that I’ll be her seeing eye on this trip, and she, as my guide. But, being apt in collecting the data, she’d called up the man in charge of the local borough ahead of time, and asked him to be a professional guide to us, and, the compassionate, wonderful man just happened to be free that day……hearing up to here, I awed in silence, “Wow, you’re, amazing!”, she’d even asked the bus driver, “Do you know how to get to the house of the man in charge of the borough?”, the bus driver drove straight to the man’s house, and let us get off.
This is Guan-Yi’s “Home”
The Wan-Tan Ancient Trail was built alongside the Wan-Tan Creek, with the sound of the water flowing along, the entire trail was covered with shades, the breezes, so gentle, very leisurely as we’d trekked down. The man told us, in the past, there are many roads, leading from one village to the next, that these sorts of ancient trails were everywhere.
The entire trek was very flat, only a few places that were filled with uneven sized rocks, with the water flowing between them, at which time, she’d taken out her cane, to use as her guide, she’d walked, carefully, and told me it felt like she was, trekking in a stream.
She’d collected the wildlife with her sense of hearing, “Listen, it’s the noisy cuckoo, what a good name, it is, truly, noisy!” there were also, eagles soaring, the hard-to-meet muntjac normally, the monkeys, all became, frequent visitors; all of a sudden, came a call, “Sir, is that, a crow?”, it surely is! Deeper into the mountains, there were, a few waterfalls, hidden in the midst of the trees, at which time, the sound of the water became quieter, “Did we, walk farther away from the waterfalls?”, we can now, hear the sounds of leaves, rubbing against leaves. She’d loved the pretty places too, her declined vision can still detect the changes in the light and the shadows, although she couldn’t see it clearly, it’s still, just as, beautiful.
On the way back, we’d gotten on the last bus.
There were, just the two of us onboard, the driver was the same one from the ride here. We’d identified each other, said our casual hellos, with that added sense of closeness now. As he drove on, he’d stopped in the tracks, “Look over there, it’s the Swinhoe’s pheasant.”, he’d showed it to me, allowed me to take a photo of it, but it’d kept moving, how can I possibly get a clear shot? So, the driver handed me a picture he’d taken from before to show me, “This one is a male, it’s prettier………”, this, I suppose, is one of the unique things about the countryside! The passengers became like his friends, the community bus turned into a tour bus, the driver acted like a guide, they’d lived with this leisure pace, the entire village became, a frame on its own.
Following, she’d introduced me to the Swinhoe’s pheasant, said it was, the most precious bird here, that it lives in forests 2,000 meters above sea level………her tone of voice was filled with so much emotion, as if, the bird was one of her pets, that you couldn’t find it anywhere else!
I’d finally understood, why so many teachers fought for the opportunities to teach elsewhere but she’d, chosen, to guard this place—this was the home of Guanyi, the locals are Guanyi’s family; from the train station to the school, the two locations were connected in a straight line, became her primary network; she’d used her own sense of smell, touch, sound, asking around………structuralized her own zone of comfort. I believe, that Shuanxi was not only a nirvana in the writers’ beliefs, it’s also, a haven for her too; as for me, it was, this hard-to-come-by time of leisure I’d gained, out of my busy work schedule.
The sun set, I took the trains that sped off slowly away. I’m really glad, that I’d said yes to her invitation, otherwise, I would’ve never gone home, with this, amazing feeling.
So, this, is what you got, out of spending a day, away from the faster-paced usual lifestyle of yours, and, you’d feel more relaxed in this place that your friend showed to you, got to feel that kindness, that genuine small town living lifestyle too.