How many yellow leaves were blown off by the autumn wind, and a few wisps of smoke rose slowly.
When I went out for a walk during lunch break, I saw the sanitation workers cleaning the fallen leaves all over the floor, and my heart warmed inexplicably, which evoked a long memory.
“Draw the stove and firewood, we were born to live together…” Zhao Lei’s “Painting” was played repeatedly by me recently. I was born in the Northeast. I love the mountains, rivers and land here, and the simple people here, but I love and hate the cold winter. From the end of October to the beginning of May, severe cold began to accompany every day. It was surprisingly long and cold. When I was young, my family was in bad condition and my hands and feet were always suffering from frostbite. Therefore, the firewood in “chai, rice, oil and salt” must be ranked first in the winter in the northeast.
At that time, there was no induction cooker or rice cooker. You had to use fire to boil water for meals. Every family had a big iron pot for cooking. The stove was directly connected to the kang. When the rice was cooked, the kang was also hot. This long winter requires a lot of firewood.
Although there is coal, it can’t be burned. Later, I realized why Grandpa never came back empty-handed every time he came back from the outside. He always caught a bundle of firewood that he picked up by the side of the road or in the ditch. In the yard of the neighboring house, most of the firewood stacks are neatly stacked and tightly covered. I remember that grandma said that by just looking at the firewood stacks of this house, you can tell if it is a living family.
In my memory, my family’s firewood is always not enough, and the whole family mobilizes to collect firewood everywhere in the fall. Grandpa and father went to the back mountain, sharpened a sickle quickly, chopped down dry branches, and tied a bundle quickly. It was estimated that the time was almost up, and grandma and mother came and carried the firewood home. Cutting wood is hard work, but carrying it is not easy. The roughness of the branches makes my neck and back hurt.
After the autumn harvest, the corn stalks and sorghum stalks in our own fields are ready-made firewood, all of which are arranged and stored in the firewood stack. I was a child at the time, and I rarely used me for these tasks, but when I went to the grove to pick up leaves, the adults would call me. By comparison, this job was much easier.
In the northeast, there are mostly tall poplar trees. At the end of October, the leaves basically fall out, and the dead leaves on the ground turn from yellow to black. It’s time to be dry. The thick larch leaves were very soft, and my father opened them with a homemade eight-claw rake, and a few strokes made a lot of them. My job is to hold the sack with both hands, and my father put a lot of dead leaves in it. The leaves are dry and fluffy, and they need to be compacted hard to decorate more. My father asked me to step on the sack when I was halfway up. I thought it was fun. I jumped and stepped vigorously, and I used the sack when it was full. Just tie it up with twine.
I like to hug the leaves. When I’m not going to school, I go to the woods with a small sack with my neighbors. We are more to play, raising leaves to the sky, dropping them on our shoulders and hair, or lying on the soft fallen leaves, looking up at the blue sky and meditating on the future. I like the peculiar taste of the leaves, the fragrance, the faint sweetness, and the sincere intimacy.
Every time I cook, I am the one who burns the fire. My mother ignited the fire first. I carried a basket of leaves or a handful of firewood into the house and guarded the stove. From time to time, my mother said “a little fire”, and the burning flame warmed me up. A meal was cooked and the kang was hot. The mother brought the food to the house. The whole family gathered together, and the thick tea and light rice were delicious.
If I can paint, I also want to paint stoves and firewood, and paint the home with stove and firewood thirty years ago, and picture my mother steaming sweet potatoes by the stove, and my figure in front of the stove, so that I can paint the joy of the whole family.
The history of picking up firewood is gone, and the fire has long been extinguished. Looking back now, behind the stove and the firewood is home, the joy of family, the constant thoughts of wanderers, and the warmest comfort for the frustrated. Although those days were not easy, they planted a seed of hope for change and gave me strength. Therefore, once you smell the special smell of soil and tree oil, you will remember the past again, feel the passage of time, and cherish today’s happiness even more.