The Cycle of the Seasons: A Reflection on Nature, Life and Death

Many times, we have forgotten the land, the place covered by cement has almost become a screen between us and the earth. The ground on which I stand is covered with thick cement, bricks or slates. In the city, my feet barely touch the dirt. But there is no lack of filth and smoke in the city. In the early winter, the sky gradually lost its moisture, and the blue color seemed to be sucked away by the dust and haze, turning into a death-like gray. I saw the shadow of the day on the pigeon’s feathers, and the dust had infiltrated its black pupils into a cataract-like turbidity. Pigeons are getting fatter due to sufficient food. It doesn’t need to fly in the sky all day long. Its wings have lost the endurance for long-distance flying. It is even unwilling to fly more times between buildings to make the sky more flexible. Fat pigeons chattered boredly on the low trees in the community, fighting for territory with some equally boring sparrows, picking up food that fell on the ground. The food left over by humans looks so dirty and fatty, pigeons can’t eat other food on the earth, especially pigeons in cities. Except that pet pigeons have fixed feed such as corn crumbs and millet sorghum, square pigeons have almost no such treatment. The pigeons I have met have adapted to this food without exception. Someone sprinkled grain on the roof of the community to attract the pigeons, and more often, the pigeons flew over from other places when they were full, chattering boredly, with a monotonous and dull voice. The streets and alleys are always shrouded in odor throughout the summer. The high temperature after the rainy season makes the fermented leaves of the trees and the dust on the lawn emit an unpleasant smell. The smoke and dust from the construction site of the subway station floated in the air, and the 20-meter-high screw elevator and machine bucket gave off a dull and continuous roar. People on the ground walk like ants, and in the underground caves, modern machinery walks. Soon, the space of this city will undergo new changes—a structured city like a hive will replace the current single planar city.

As Brodsky puts it in his poem:

in the city we walk through

The secret of no space

the land has fled

dive deeper

We walk like insects

can’t see the horizon

The solidification and hardness of the urban land makes it impossible for rainwater to return to the earth. Therefore, a slightly heavier rain turns the streets into rivers, but we do not have the ability to fish. Sometimes looking at the broken-down cars in knee-deep water, flashing yellow or red lights in despair, can bring a sense of inexplicable guilt—that we have turned our lives into one. The impenetrable pond, the sudden arrival of stagnant water, turns all happiness into pain. The car struggled in the stagnant water like a drowning beetle, and the world became blurred in the chaotic rain and fog. Outside the window glass is the world of water, and inside the window glass is the world of darkness, so cramped and narrow, only room for my soul to breathe rapidly. The tree swayed in the wind and rain, helpless and strong. Trees without support either snapped or fell, and were uprooted. The rain swept every square centimeter of the city, and the streets and alleys in the wind and rain looked so strange that it was impossible to see where the earth was. The light of lightning in the distance instantly illuminated the void of the city, and the gray, pale, and unrecognizable sky finally lit up, flashing past like a flame or a blade. But this is a living phenomenon after all, and there is no reference other than this. “The kind of soft place is often the hotbed of life, but there are no flowers on the rocks.” We live among the rocks and are desperate weeds.


The solar term is the awesome law of dividing time. At the beginning of spring, the earth is still dead. On the slightly sunny warm slope, the treetops are already blooming with thin new shoots. In the depths of the park, the mole crickets suddenly wake up and sing occasionally. The trees in the block did not show any changes, they were half-dead by the winter wind, and the leaves were mostly half-withered and yellow, covered with thick dust, but the deciduous trees looked sparse and neat. Winter in the south always looks unserious, like the continuation of autumn, or the long prelude to spring. It is not obvious that there are changes in frost and snow. The wind that penetrates makes people feel that this is winter, but suddenly, it is spring. The sun got up earlier, and a bright light suddenly flashed from the southeast corner of the building, and a hint of warmth spread like a wave in an instant. In the air of the block, the gray haze gradually dissipated, and the chaotic dust and smoke were blown away by the wind. The slightly humid wind made people look uplifted. The spring in the south also came less obviously. The calendar reminds me: Today is the beginning of spring. “When the east wind thaws, when the second waits for the stinging insects to vibrate, and when the third waits for the fish to bear the ice.” The east wind came clearly, and the flowers and plants on the east window began to shake, as if celebrating the occurrence of a certain event; In the night, the sound of insects sounded softly, gradually converging into a sea of ​​insect sounds. Katydids, yellowflies, wax-winged stinglings, and horseflies emerged from their burrows one after another. From the flower pot, a yellow bamboo fly came out, and with a winter-weary look, it timidly climbed to the tip of the lemon blossom, trying to flap its numb wings. The voice is crisp and shy, and occasionally it is bright and surprising. When the sun hit the balcony, it had disappeared. The grass in the flowerpot also began to poke its head out, and the clover clustered, grabbing the vacant surface of the potting soil. Yeats’ poem: “The clover fills the path, and the spring knocks down the acorn, and makes its companion.”

The year before last, I went to Delft, the Netherlands, where my daughter was studying. It was a small village full of rivers, quiet and quiet, with a small population. The Dutch people love nature, flowers and green trees. Therefore, although it is close to the sea, there are often strong winds above level 7, and the terrain here is low-lying. The river water is driven by windmills and flows into the main drainage and irrigation canal leading to the North Sea. The houses in Delft, except for the church, are basically three or four-story buildings with high roofs in Northern Europe. The streets are paved with black and gray stone bricks, leaving gaps where mud and grass can be seen. In spring, grass can be seen to drill out of the gaps and grow randomly into the landscape at any time. The cleaners usually do not pull out these weeds. Except for important streets, they always try to maintain the most primitive natural state. The river water is not very clear, but it is very clean, and citizens often hold various activities of one kind or another. When Midsummer Festival comes, in addition to the carnival of music and dance, there is also a swimming competition in the river. All kinds of men and women, regardless of age, can participate. On the banks of the river, there are Netherlanders in medieval costumes and Germans in national costumes, dancing cha-cha or foxtrot. Men dressed as waiters walk around the crowd with beer glasses, serving delicious draft beer. At noon, I took a nap on the chairs facing the river on the street, under the shade of the trees, and the cool breeze blows. I feel that the summer here is a bit dreamy, like the spring in Fuzhou. The sea breeze is suddenly strong, usually there will be a shower in the afternoon, the sky will suddenly become overcast, the wind is strong, and the river seems to be boiling. The rain was like a thunderstorm in Fuzhou, with white arrows hitting the ground, the grass trembling and the leaves dancing. Most of the trees here are plane trees and oaks, and some are beech and birch. All grow into an umbrella shape, and the huge shade covers the sky. But there are few trees near the Dutch church, only flower beds. The square is outside the gate of the church, slipping past, it is a small market, a coffee bar or a small circular stage for public activities.

From time to time, by the river, wild ducks lined up and crossed the street calmly. At this time, all people, cars, and even trains must stop to give way to them. Wild ducks have almost no life worries here. There are no natural enemies, no eagles or sea eagles, no shotguns or hunting nets, and no poisonous baits and traps. Seagulls play the role of robbers from time to time, especially citizens who are carrying fresh fish and seafood just bought from the supermarket, they should pay attention to the “robbers” who suddenly rush down from the sky. Those arctic gray-backed gulls are extremely tough, and often take the fish with the bag, and make you break out in a cold sweat. It flaps its wings proudly, passes over your head quickly, and flies into the distance. My daughter once met a couple of squirrels. They took a fancy to the baked bread with pine nuts in her hand. The aroma made the squirrels anxious, so they jumped on her bicycle, tore off a large piece of bread, and then ran away quickly. The daughter photographed the funny appearance of the squirrel couple. It can be seen how equal and intimate the relationship between local animals and humans is. Most of the bridges in the Netherlands are movable bridges, without high spans, they are all flush with the road surface, but there is a large turntable in the middle of the bridge that can rotate 90 degrees. When a big ship passes by, the bridge will turn along the direction of the river. Make way for the ships to pass, and all the cars and people will wait patiently at the bridge. Everything is slow, time flows here calmly, and it is almost impossible to see anyone pressing the horn in a hurry to urge the car ahead. Bicycles are the main means of transportation here. Usually, the comfortable Dutch people ride bicycles along the narrow path of the dam, listen to music, or throw their food to gulls from time to time, but this is only allowed by law. Feed food. The dam is a solid structure with steel and concrete walls, but the surface is a soil box, planted with flowers and plants. The water quality in the Netherlands is salty, and only salt-tolerant aquatic plants can grow in this soil box. There are gray thistle and mint, as well as parsley and verbena. The inner side of the dam is sunflower field, which is also a salt-tolerant plant, and the regular farmland is outside the wild ageratum isolation zone. It’s all mechanized factory production, with fresh cut flowers and common plants like potatoes, endive and celery. In some parts of South Holland, there are only wheat fields.

In the beginning of summer, the climate here is still as cool as spring. Occasionally, after a shower of rain, the clouds will disperse, and the sky will be as white as cotton, and the sky will be as transparent as crystal. That kind of blue is the most primitive color of nature. I used to be familiar with this kind of blue when I was a child, but now the summer sky is always filled with a layer of gray matter, which makes that kind of blue discounted.


In the south of the beginning of autumn, there is always an inexplicable silence. The change of the solar terms is not obvious. The only change is that the shadow of the sun moves south, and some coolness is born in the shade. Although it is not obvious, it is no longer summer. dull and hot. Ling Xiaohua will burst all over the branches, as well as Milan or Jiulixiang, and the big-leaf banyan will occasionally burst out new buds, making this early autumn ambiguous. In the countryside, it is time to start making rice wine. The rice is harvested and ground into rice, and the fragrance of rice wafts far in the streets and alleys of the countryside. The brewing of winter wine is an important item in the schedule. The new rice needs to be dried in the hot sun for a few days until the rice shrinks into a transparent jade shape, and then sieved in a husker for several hours to let the rice germ fall off completely. The rice is like a jade carving, and the grains are transparent and lovely. . The rice is rinsed in the barrel, steamed in the steamer, then poured into the brewing vat for initial fermentation, and then put in the koji. After a night of fermentation, the rice balls gradually liquefy, and the rich aroma of koji overflows. Then it is deep-fermented for two days, the mouth of the cylinder is sealed, and it is sterilized in a steamer, and then it is taken out of the cage and placed in a cool underground wine cellar for storage until autumn. In the next few months, the rice koji in the tank continued to ferment, saccharified and converted into alcohol, and the koji turned orange-yellow wine color until all the rice grains turned into liquid, leaving only a small amount of insoluble matter, settled at the bottom of the tank. In the dark basement, the wine feels the external yin and yang changes, the yin qi gradually grows, and the yang qi gradually declines.

On the day of the summer solstice, there will be a cry of a shrike outside the window. This bird is sensitive to the changes of yin and yang. The three seasons of the summer solstice: the antlers are removed, the deer is a yang beast, and the horns are removed when it knows the yin arrival; Things, when unearthed, they feel the yin, and they begin to sing; At the beginning of autumn, there are three more seasons: the cool breeze arrives, the white dew falls, and the cold cockroaches cry. The earth’s air starts to cool, and the westerly wind blows, and the wind blows all day long, and the body feels cool, and the rain is getting more and more. The dew grows in the vegetation, the color is white, and it shows that it is gold in autumn. Hanshui, chilling cicada, small and purple, similar to scorpion, born in late summer, has a long hoarse voice, soft and weak, like helpless, like nostalgia, its voice is more sad, to enhance the ear of autumn.

In the eyes of the ancients, the shrike was an ominous bird, called the 鵙. “The Book of Songs · Bin Feng” says: In July, there is a song. Yuan Wu Cheng’s “The Collection of Seventy-two Hours of the Moon Order” says: “Cao Zijian’s “On the Evil Birds”: The shrike sings in May, and its sound is so loud. And its prey exposes the corpse, and the sound is unpleasant.” But the shrike is the most faithful messenger of the climate, the summer solstice sounds and the winter solstice stops. This bird lives alone and stands on a thorn bush. No matter what it catches, insects, frogs or snakes, it will hang on the spikes and expose its corpse. No bird dares to approach it. In the vast fields of the countryside, the shrike haunts like a shadow, flying no further than the hills, no farther than the rivers and forests, its shrill and vigilant voice. Shrikes have also appeared in cities recently, stealing the chicks of other birds for food. The uncle is the head, the laborer is the strength. Rural people like it because it is good at repelling sparrows. There are shrikes in the rice fields, and the sparrows are flying far away, and there are many pests on the fruit trees. Its prey, even the tiny borer wasps, beetles and scarabs, are included in its diet. Rural people call it a guest bird, because it is not seen in winter and spring. In autumn and winter, the fields are gradually deserted, and there are really not many birds and insects to hunt on the dry corn stalks, straw stacks and open fields. The Shrike was still busy until the winter solstice, when he disappeared without a trace. Horton said in “Bird Miscellaneous”: The existence of birds is actually another way of the existence of time. How terrible the world would be without birdsong, even if its sound is not very pleasant, it reminds how important certain times of the day are, like the time when a cock crows. In winter, the fields finally return to tranquility, like a person’s winter rest for a year. And the rice wine in the wine cellar has been brewed, and the winter festival starts with wine. In some mountain villages in northern Fujian, winter will not appear indifferently. The smell of wine reminds another way of winter. The wine is full of flowers, and each family sends the wine to the grain field in the village, pours it into a large barrel, and mixes it into a kind of wine, and then each family takes the wine back from the barrel. , Put it on the side of the valley for people to taste. The Wine Grabbing Festival is like a carnival in the countryside. On the wine-red ground, the spilled wine juice flows and shines red in the sun like blood. In the aroma of the wine, the passion of the villagers is heating up until it boils.

shrike through my village

The seasons are torn apart and fly like reeds

What mind is as strong as wine?

I picked up fallen leaves and wanted to return them to the earth

Like the ancient sacrificial ceremony, take my blood or flesh as a sacrifice

supply the earth

Red is the color of blood, the wounds of autumn, the shrike dismembering its prey, and the depths of its exposed flesh, the silent notes of the season. Therefore, the ancients called the seventy-two solar terms, which is an epic description. I believe that between every solar term, there are the silent footsteps of the earth. Therefore, I am in awe of the red color of rice wine, as well as the rice wine itself, which is an ancient ritual and an elegy of the season. When everything is no longer luxuriant, when the autumn wind withers all vitality, I cherish and awe the process of all this, like a shrike singing to the corpse of its prey.


I am in awe of all phenomena in life, including life and death. The year before last, my father died of illness. On the night before his death, we surrounded him by the bed, and he was half-lying, pillowed on the quilt. There was a hurrying figure of Death in the room, and I could feel his coming and his excited yelling, even dancing. He was looking forward to his father’s last moment. My father has been panting short of breath. He seems to want to say something. In fact, my father is not very talkative. He always keeps silent, watching TV alone, with an inexplicable smile on the corner of his mouth. Father suddenly let out a breath of relief, but he didn’t take in any more air. His hands softened, and he hung feebly by the side of the bed, and his head also hung down feebly, tilted to one side. The air in the room froze as if dead. We were busy washing his body, his heart was still warm, I pressed my face to his heart, but there was no sound. Father fell asleep, and he was too tired to wake up forever. Such a farewell is very cruel, but I know that everyone has such a moment. I hugged my father’s body, let my sister wipe it, then put a shroud on him, and let my father lie down on his back. He was no longer tormented by illness, and he didn’t need to struggle with difficult breathing. He followed the god of death, without footsteps, like a gust of wind. When I took over the ashes urn, my heart suddenly tugged, it was heavy, my eyes turned black, and I almost staggered. My father turned into such a pile of bones, which was beige like ivory under the light, emitting a soft light. I gently covered the small brocade quilt and closed the lid of the altar. I carried the urn to the funeral carriage.

The sky was still as blue as a wash, and the sun was too bright to sting my skin. I hugged my father’s urn tightly, it was still warm after the flames. The road up the mountain is so rough, the thorns pierced my body, I feel the father in my arms is very kind, he is still asleep, like a baby, he is going back, returning to the earth, that is his eternal destination, and will also is my eternal home.

Later, one day, I went to Guling with my friends and found a coffin stone, which is called coffin stone platform. He laughed and said that life is so quiet, and death should be returned to the stone platform. He regards death as a sacrificial ceremony to the earth. I thought of Serta Gyatso in Kardze, and I attended the whole process of his uncle’s funeral. His uncle was tied up into a white pillar. On the way home after being cremated, we chanted sutras and watched the gurgling river at the bottom of the curved valley and the eagle figure that appeared from time to time on the edge of the steep cliff in the donkey cart. The flags fluttered in the wind. The earth is so quiet that you can even hear the crisp sound of bouncing stones every time they are crushed. We sat on the grass, sprinkled highland barley flour into the air, and the sound of sutras was like a humming mountain wind. The white urn was placed behind the mysterious altar in another village of their ancestors. This has almost the same meaning as our back mountain, the village where our ancestors reunited. Under the dark blue sky, we became part of the rock in the sunlight. After a silence, we bid them farewell. The mountain wind is hunting, and on the rocks that have lost water for many years, there are more tears that we shed just now. The earth stretches into the distance, endlessly. Every time I touch the chest of the earth, I seem to be whispering to a great mother, that is where everyone comes from, where all things come from, and will also be where we and all things go.

all things soft

deep into the earth

Happened for no reason

It’s like disappearing for no reason

no need to explain

hope to get an answer

No, everything returns to vanity

all life and all death

all equally meaningless

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