“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
好多日子，我都在等天空放晴，那麼照片拍出來可以明亮一點，好襯托理應生機蓬勃的春天。幾天過去，一星期過去，兩星期過去，天還是陰。我想起 T.S. Eliot 的《The Waste Land》。時代背景不同，卻同樣的蒼茫。我沒有意思醞釀沉鬱的情感，不過天氣使然，天氣不是無辜的。
我點燃線香，驅散一室揮之不去的暮春鬱悶；偶爾播放輕鬆卻沒內容的 lo-fi jazz，給午後的安靜加點淡淡的調；瑜伽課後，我在路邊小檔買了黃與白的鮮花回家，隨意插在水瓶裡，放在飯桌上；晚飯後，洗好碗碟便泡杯紅茶，伴着半塊三重朱古力牛油曲奇吃，是最近的習慣。氣壓再低，天再陰，還是要學會打起精神，不要在低頻處裡打轉。生活過得好不好，是可以自己調節過來。
Late April. Bleak. Fine drizzle filling the sky.
For many days, I was waiting for the sky to clear up so that photos to be taken could look brighter, complementing, supposedly, the growth and vitality of spring. Days went by, a week went by, and it was still gloomy after a fortnight. It reminded me of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. Different era, same bleakness. I had no intention to let the depressive emotion lurk and grow but it was the weather. The weather is to blame.
I burnt sticks of incense to dispel the air of stiffness from late spring in the room. I played relaxing but empty lo-fi jazz in the background of a quiet afternoon. After yoga class, I bought some flower of white and yellow at a roadside stall and randomly arranged it in a glass jug for the dining table. I brewed a cup of black tea after doing dishes from dinner, and to go with the tea, I had half a piece of triple chocolate butter cookie, which was my recent routine. Despite the depressive and gloomy weather, we ought to learn to lift the spirit and not to stay in the low. Living good or not is up to us to adjust.
That day when I bought flowers, I passed by the vegetable stall I often shopped at. There were lean and pointy bamboo shoots of green and white. A bunch of freshly harvested water bamboo, locally grown as the owner told me. I wasn’t cooking those days so I didn’t bring them home. When I checked out the stall again a few days later, “we had it yesterday, we had it this morning, but it’s all gone now!”, the shop owner said. His stall was small and doorless so that customers had to pick their produce out on the street. Small portions of produce piled up in the small space, most of them were grown in this small city. Fresh and sweet. Sometimes you can see rare fruit and vegetables here. I passed by the stall again, twice, and still no sign of the water bamboo. “Few people grow it nowadays. Small yield. You gotta bring it home when you see it. Eat it when you can. Further waiting may bring you nothing. They harvest water bamboo about every ten days now. Try your luck again later!” Yes, sir. Looks like the spring rain needs to really kick in to “stir the dull roots”.
Misty air and spring are fateful twins. Rain around the time of Ching Ming Festival is just never ending. The change of season and weather may not always be favourable, but the longer we live, the better we know what’s coming – drizzle in late spring, gentle breeze in early autumn, knowing when to turn on the radiator for chilly humid weather, when to put away the knits, which vegetables in season and which fruit sweet. Once you understand this kind of understanding, you will be more at ease and at peace in heart. By extending this kind of understanding to lives and subjects of life, you will understand that everything simply changes like the four seasons.
欖菜 2 湯匙
- 茭白筍洗淨，保留筍葉，水沸後蒸約 5 分鐘。從茭白筍末端看，中央呈半透明即表示熟透。
Water Bamboo Salad
Fresh water bamboo 3 pieces
Preserved Chinese olive and mustard leaf 2 tablespoons
Sea salt To taste
Iced water A big bowl of it
- Wash the water bamboos. Steam them for about 5 minutes with the leaves on. When the centre of water bamboos turns semi translucent, it means they are cooked.
- Put the cooked water bamboos in an ice bath right away to keep the crunchiness.
- Peel off the leaves, thickly slice the water bamboos at an angle then cut them into sticks.
- Mix the water bamboo with preserved olive and mustard leaf in a large bowl. As the flavour of the preserve varies from brand to brand, you can add or reduce the portion of the preserve to taste or use sea salt for further seasoning.
- Keep the salad cold in the fridge before serving.
It’s raining outside, crisp and bleak. Three chubby sparrows took shelter on my balcony and I gave them the baguette bits left on my breakfast plate but they flew away. I stayed in, played Damien Rice on vinyl and made apple crumble. Repeat.