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(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago(中文在后面)  

2013-02-24 23:34:51|  分类: 英语文章 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客
(原创)Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago - 黄志涛 - huangrick2006的博客

Sleet in a mountain village 40 years ago

    It brings unbelievable beauty as well as real danger and loss. People in China didn’t know much about it or even hear about it until the winter of 2008, when an unprecedented strange natural disaster hit most parts of the south provinces where it is usually warm and mild in winter, causing great losses and inconveniences to life and work of the local people. Now you know its name—sleet, or freezing rain.

Electricity was cut off for as long as three months in some worst parts. As nearly all the power towers collapsed because of the heavy ice on the power lines. The power nets in five provinces were out of work and it took at least half a year to bring them all back to the normal working state. Local residents had no running water or lighting or cooking fire without electricity, which they always took for granted. They had to fetch water from rivers and wells quite far away. No traffic was available on the road, since the roads were covered with ice. Driving meant committing suicide. Therefore children couldn’t go to school, people couldn’t go to work, and they had to stay at home. But it was very cold and they had to get coal or charcoal to keep them from freezing to death. The price of fuel shot up like a rocket. Candles had been sold out. Food, meat and vegetables were hard to obtain. People had to buy coal stoves, without which they would have had to eat everything raw and freezing cold. Millions of people were living in such a condition! Sleet taught people a hard lesson in the winter of 2008.

In fact, such a large scale of sleet is very rare in history. But it doesn’t mean sleet is rare. In some parts of Guizhou and Hunan province, you can find it almost every winter. During my stay in a mountain village in the south of Guizhou as a peasant about 40 years ago, I unexpectedly met it, which left a deep impression on me. I still remember clearly the unusual experience to this day.

One morning the piercing freezing cold took away the little warmth in my quilt when I woke up early. The house I slept in was very tall and spacious with holes of all sizes in the wall. The temperature was the same in or out of it. But I was young and strong, with no fear of cold weather. Usually I could keep quite warm in bed. But that morning was different. Opening my sleepy eyes, wow! I noticed that it seemed very bright in the house. I listened carefully. Nothing. Did it snow last night? I jumped up, put on clothes quickly and opened the door to see what was going on. It was not snowing. What confronted me was a crystal world. Unbelievably dazzling and beautiful! I looked up. The sky was like a livid lead plate, from which extremely fine and dense “powder” was falling. What was it? I had no idea.

I stepped out into the yard. But before I knew it, I had slipped and slid to the center of the yard right away. It turned out that the ground was covered with a layer of clear ice like a mirror. I tried very cautiously to pick up myself. But I didn’t dare to stand up straight or I would fall again. Some withered grass nearby caught my eye. The matchstick like stems were now as thick as my finger with ice wrapping around them.

Out of the yard were a few pine trees. Each pine needle was like a pencil. It seemed to me that they were thousands of glass flowers in bloom, which reminded me of what I could imagine in a fairy tale. Fascinated in awe and wonder, I had an impulse to draw a picture. Then I felt my face and hands were a little wet and cold. The fine “powder” was falling densely and silently. It was so quiet and you could hardly hear anything. No rooster crowing. Or dog barking. Or cow lowing. Or hog grunting. These were the most familiar noises one could hear in a village in the morning. I guess these clever animals must have hidden themselves in some warm places, sleeping comfortably. The silence, however, was suddenly broken by sharp, loud and fearful cracks coming from far in the mountain once in a while, which hit my ear and filled me with fear. What was it? I didn’t know.

How could I walk on the ice? I put on the boots brought from Shanghai. They were no good. Then I saw a peasant walking steadily by with straws tied around their shoes. That was the trick! I followed suit and it worked perfectly. The lane in the village was made of stone slates and now each was like a small skating rink. I walked out carefully, breaking countless ice flowers on the way. Looking out to the mountain slope, I didn’t think any words were good enough to describe the beauty. I couldn’t help thinking about a few lines of a famous poet about ice and snow, when I heard the sharp crack again. Then I saw a big tree fell down and broke in the middle, showing the broken trunk on the mountain slope. Oh, now to my shock, I saw many such split trunks there. I realized it was the heavy ice on the tree that made it collapse under great pressure. So the sleet brought beauty as well as harm. At that time, we had no electricity in the village. We cooked and kept warm with wood. Unlike the situation in 2008, life wasn’t badly affected when I was there.

I turned to the road. In the distance the telephone lines along the road shaped like a series of U between the poles, some of which had fallen down. The usually busy road was empty. If someone offered me 100 yuan (a fortune then) in the county town, which was about 24 km from my village, I would have had to give it up. I realized for the first time that we were completely isolated from the outside world. I might as well go back home, start a fire, and cook my breakfast. As least I didn’t have to work in the field. A rest was always welcome. I tried to comfort myself.

Many years later, I learned that sleet is quite common in Guizhou, especially in the west and south, where a special weather condition is fit for the formation of freezing rain. It must be very cold in high altitude, with a lot of moisture in the air, but without wind. The fine “powder” is over cold droplets, which turn into ice as soon as they touch anything. That’s why a pine needle can be as thick as a pencil, and a cable can grow as big as an arm or even a leg. The mirror of ice on the slate forms just through a process of plating. It’s a pity that I was too poor to own a  camera then, or the photos would be just splendid

Seeing is believing. I’ll find some photos of sleet in the Internet, hoping you will like them.







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