After the fall harvest, everything was stored away into storage. After a fall rain, fall vegetables were planted. Being in the North, the winters were pretty cold and only one type of vegetables would grow. After fall, almost every family planted easily storable vegetables such as bok choy or radishes. When the deep winter came, they’d store these in their basement and these would be their sustenance for the entire winter.
When the work in the fields were mostly completed, villagers of all ages started heading into the mountains to forage for pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, fungus, mushrooms, bracken, wild vegetables and the likes. Tis the season that the mountain generously blessed the humans with plentiful of produces. These were also products that those living outside of the mountains loved to purchase. Any hardworking person, even kids around 10, could earn up to several hundred wen!
Gu Ming had been in and out of the hills by himself on a regular basis so he was quite familiar with the hill tops nearby. He quickly located a couple hazelnut trees nearby. The boys would climb up the trees like monkeys and hit the hazelnuts with sticks and make them fall; and the girls would pick them up from the ground.
Under the tree, in addition to Gu Ye and Li’jie, there were also Xiuniang, the village chief’s granddaughter, and Yinggu, third gandmother’s youngest daughter. Gu Ming climbed up the tree and shook the branch wildly with one foot. The hazelnuts rained down like it was hailing.
Gu Ye carried the basket on the top of her hand and run back and forth trying to catch the hazelnuts. Xianiang, about the same age at her, mimicked her and ran back and forth giggling. Yinggu, standing nearby shook her head and said, “How much do you think you can catch running around like that, you two foolish girl! Hurry up and stop fooling around!”
Xianiang stopped after she heard that and looked inside her basket. There were only three to five hazelnuts in her basket. She pouted and resorted to bending over and picking up hazelnuts.
When there were less hazelnuts falling from the tree, Gu Ye finally stopped. Li’jie stuck her head over and peeked, Gu Ye’s basket was half full! She was genuinely surprised and asked, “How did you do that?”
“Just good hand and eye coordination!” Gu Ye smiled at her before she bent over and picked up hazelnuts to put in the basket at lightning speed. The little basket was full in no time and she poured the hazelnuts into her brother’s basket1 and keep on collecting more.
When the boys saw that enough hazelnuts have fallen, they jumped down from the tree and joined the crew in collecting. Gu Ming saw that they already have plenty of hazelnuts in their basket and have his sister go rest.
Gu Ye wants to know if there were herbs in the valley so she didn’t object to his suggestion. The valley was not big and one could easily see the entire place and it was full of all sorts of weeds. One must have good eyes in order to spot herbs among the weeds!
Lilac tasselflower2, good for internal cooling and rid of toxins, removal of bruises and swelling. Gu Ye grabbed a bundle of lilac tasselflower from a short bush and added them to her basket. Bupleurum root was good for influenza, fever, and malaria. Polygala root, good for clearing phlegm and mucus, also possessed calming and mind-clearing effect… these were all common-seen herbs that was easily spotted by her.
Picture: Lilac tasselflower
Picture: Lilac tasselflower
Picture: Polygala (Yuan Zhi)3
Picture: Polygala (Yuan Zhi)
“Mei mei, don’t wander too far away!” Gu Ming looked up and saw that she was about to walk out of the valley. He quickly got up and shouted.
Gu Ye waved at him to signified that she has heard him. She was still gazing at the cliffs on both sides of the valley. Suddenly, a dried tree caught all of her attention. The tree was most dead, except for some hints of green on part of the roots that were sticking out.
1. Basket that they carried on their back, similar to those they carried babies in.
2. Chinese literal meaning is “goat hoof grass”. Totes look like weeds to me! J Evidently it is quite commonly seen in farming areas and one can just stir fry and eat it too…
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