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Go to the mountain

by Kiel 2 months ago in fact or fiction
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It was an early autumn evening. My father pointed to a hill across from the base dormitory and said, "Let's go up that hill."

It was an early autumn evening. My father pointed to a hill across from the base dormitory and said, "Let's go up that hill."

"But what's there? "I asked vaguely, chewing the remnants of my rice.

The father thought for a moment and then said, "There is a tree with red leaves at the top of the hill. Let's go and have a look."

I looked up, and all I saw were mountains and trees. We're at the bottom of a valley, and no matter what Angle you look out, all you see is mountains. The mountain my father mentioned was about five kilometers away from us as the crow flies. It was one of the lower mountains, just facing the gate of the dormitory building. I tried to make out, among the dark green trees, a faint tree with dark red leaves, but I could not distinguish it, for the vast expanse of bare earth was also red, and a bright red.

We crossed the gate of the playground twice. That's where the soldiers used to train, probably by bulldozers pushing dirt around to make a flat field that was a playground. The dirt was piled high along the track, and we headed straight across the playground toward the hill. On the way we twice climbed over a wall of rammed earth. We took off the shoes and shook them twice. The second time I shook the shoes, I found that the insole had been stained red by the soil, and the mountain was still far away.

After passing a cabin at the substation, we were soon out into the wilderness. There were no more signs of man-made structures, only low bushes and thick grass, with stones of various sizes scattered among them. With every step we took, insects hibernating in the grass were startled. Some of the grasshoppers were very large, and jumped suddenly, with a rustling sound of their wings, and with a sharp turn in the air plunged into the distant grass, like a fast-moving gray mist. It was difficult for us to keep going in a straight line at this time, for there were large patches of gap grass everywhere, and we had to keep going round and round, as soon as we passed them, they hung seeds all over us.

The father said, "It's a cow." I knew what he meant. The seeds had been brought here by the cattle and sheep of nearby farmers, who were grazing them. We spent a lot of time on this part of the road, always keeping our heads down, making detours between stones and needles. When we finally looked up, we were at the foot of the mountain.

It was still bright enough for us to find the path hidden in the grass. Although all the mountains look deserted, with only birds and insects in and out of them, if you come close you will find mountain people moving between them -- grazing their cattle, going to market, or visiting relatives and friends. And there, under the long grass, was hidden the path which they had made with their feet. The paths zigzag and tend to follow the mountain to its gentlest point -- sometimes carrying baskets weighing dozens of kilograms, they need a less steep path and prefer to keep spiraling down the mountain. The path also reveals the character of the person who has passed through it. In some places there is a very rough shortcut to a rapid descent, and the mud has left a deep groove with the friction of the sole of the shoe, which leads directly to the lower part of the mountain path, but thus reduces a turn.

We climbed the path through the long grass and were soon surrounded by trees taller than me. Because I could not see the scene of the top of the mountain, I had to look back at the distant playground at the foot of the mountain, based on which I probably guess how high I was at the moment. It was very quiet in the trees, except for the tiny bugs that kept darting in front of them. I climbed behind my father, one step at a time, watching dark sweat stains slowly appear on his green military vest and spread toward his waist. We reeked of sweat and attracted mosquitoes that circled overhead until they turned into a black cloud of smoke. My father cut two thin and long branches with his knife. As we walked, we held the branches above our heads and shook them slightly. The branches "whine" and pass through the mosquito swarm repeatedly, and the mosquitoes fall like light rain spots, which make a slight "popping" sound when they land on the clothes. The black cloud soon lightened and cleared, but it was of no use, for the mosquitoes kept coming from afar.

At last we reached the top of the hill, which was a dull, gentle slope. There were no trees or long grass, just a lawn strewn with cow dung, where cattle should often rest. The red tree was at the lower edge of the lawn. It was getting dark when we arrived, but its red leaves seemed to be burning in the setting sun, giving it a translucent red color. The father said, "It's really sumac." Then he pinched off the buds of the leaves, put them in his mouth, and motioned to me to taste them.

The buds of sumac have a bitter taste, no sweetness, no aroma, just a plant taste, and I guess that's what sumac tastes like. We have sumac oil, which is made from its seeds, and it is the local custom to fry chicken with it. I've tried it and I don't think it's special. It was the first time I had eaten varnished leaves, and it didn't seem special. The sun went down a little more between the mountains, and the wind blew so high that from here the mountains seemed to fall behind a curtain of pink, gold, pale green and black, and we were falling into total black, and the sumac trees were losing their red and turning to dark gold. "What are we doing here?" I asked. The father replied, "Look."

We stood on the top of the hill and watched the sun go down, not talking to each other, chewing leaves.

fact or fiction

About the author

Kiel

Wonderful stories often come from inner feelings.

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