If I were to write a novel with Beiping as the setting, I would not be afraid because I could pick up what I knew and avoid what I did not know. If I were to tell a set of Beiping in a single floating way, I could not. Although I was born there and did not leave until I was twenty-seven, I really feel that I know too little. I have never been to Taoranting, which is ridiculous! By analogy, what I know is only "my Beiping", and my Beiping is probably equal to a hair of a cow.
However, I really love Beiping. This love is almost too much to say. I love my mother. How? I can't say. When I want to do something to please her, I smile faintly alone; when I think of her health and don't worry, I want to shed tears. Words are not enough to express my feelings, only smiling alone or shedding tears is enough to reveal my heart to the outside. My love for Beiping is similar to this. It is easy to praise a certain point of this ancient city, but that would be too small a view of Beiping. What I love about Beiping is not just a few things, but a whole history that is glued to my heart, a large area, many scenic spots, from the dragonflies in Shichahai after the rain to the shadow of the pagoda on Yuquan Mountain in my dreams, all of which have come together in one piece.
I wish I could be a poet, soaking all the beautiful words in my heart's blood, crying out like a cuckoo to reveal the splendor of Beiping. Ah! I am not a poet! I will never be able to say what I love, a love like that caused by music and pictures. It is not only a failure to Peking, but also to myself, for my first knowledge and impressions came from Peking, it is in my blood, and there is much in my character and temperament that this ancient city has given me. I cannot love Shanghai and Tianjin because I have Beiping in my heart. But I can't say it!
London, Paris, Rome and Constantinople were once called the four "historical capitals" of Europe. I know something about London; I have only been to Paris and Rome; I have not been to Constantinople at all. As far as London, Paris, and Rome are concerned, Paris is closer to Peking - although the word "closer" is a long way off - but if I were to "live in Paris", I would feel as miserable as if I had no home. Paris, as far as I can see, is still too lively. Naturally, there are also empty and quiet places there, but they are not too open; unlike Beiping, which is both complex and has an edge that I can touch - the old city walls with red dates! Facing the pool of stagnant water, with the city wall behind me, sitting on the stone watching the tadpoles in the water or the young dragonflies on the reed leaves, I could sit happily for a day, completely at ease, with nothing to seek and nothing to fear, like a little child sleeping peacefully in its cradle. Yes, there are also lively places in Peking, but it is similar to Taijiquan, where there is stillness in movement. There are many places in Paris that make people tired, so coffee and wine are necessary to stimulate; in Beiping, a mild fragrant piece of tea is enough. It is said that the arrangement of Paris has been more than the London Rome evenly, but it is still almost the same than in Beiping. Beiping is natural in the artificial, almost everywhere is neither too crowded nor too secluded: the smallest hutong houses have yards and trees; the most open places are not far from the trading streets and residential areas. This distribution can be considered - in my experience - the best in the world. The beauty of Peking is not that it is completely equipped everywhere, but that there is space everywhere for people to breathe freely; it is not that there are beautiful buildings, but that there is free space around them to make them beautiful. Every city tower and every pagoda can be seen from a long distance. Besides, you can see the North Mountain and the West Mountain from the street!
People who are good at learning and love antiques naturally like Beiping, because there are many books and antiques here. I am not good at learning, and I don't have money to buy antiques. For material things, I like the flowers and vegetables and fruits in Beiping. Flowers and plants are a kind of costly art, but the "grass flowers" here are very cheap, and every family has a yard, so you can spend little money and plant a yard of flowers, even if it is not much, but in the end it is lovely. The petunias on the wall, the bamboo and the jasmine at the root of the wall, are so economical and easy to attract butterflies! As for the bok choy, cabbage, lentils, bean curd, cucumber, spinach and so on, most of them were brought directly from outside the city to our doorstep. After the rain, the leek leaves often carry the mud splattered with the rain. The reds and greens on the green stalls are almost poetic in their beauty. There are a lot of fruits from the West and North Mountains, such as the black dates and persimmons from the North Mountains, and the white frost on them. The oranges from the United States are wrapped in paper, and the frosty jade plums from Beiping are not worth killing!
Yes, Beiping is a capital city, and there are so many flowers, vegetables and fruits that are produced by themselves, which brings people closer to nature. From the inside, it does not have factories that smoke all day long like those in London; from the outside, it is connected with gardens, vegetable gardens and the countryside. It is a place where one can see the South Mountain in a relaxed manner; probably it is not much of a big deal to change the word "South" to "West" or "North". A poor person like me, perhaps only in Beiping can enjoy a little bit of happiness. I'm going to cry, I really miss Beiping.