Winter memories in the highlands

When the terraced fields in the highlands are left with only stubble and some late-harvested fields with ripe yellow rice on the hillside, it is time for autumn to pass.

Since the beginning of the week, online newspapers have simultaneously reported the forecast of the first cold wave of winter in the coming days. I don't know when I feel an indescribable feeling when I hear that the northeast monsoon is coming. The cold winds at the beginning of the season call back so many happy and sad memories of the past winters.

From October onwards, Lao Cai highland enters the magical cloud season.

Just yesterday afternoon in the cool autumn weather and T-shirts I was walking around the streets, but after a windy night, the footsteps of winter rushed over. In the early morning of winter, it is difficult to wake up right away, but just want to lie down forever in a warm blanket. Adults are like that, children just want to sleep forever, afraid to get up to go to school. Some parents who take their children to school by motorbike do not think the weather would get cold so quickly, still wearing thin clothes and riding the bike on the cold road. The children are cared for more carefully by their parents, each of them wearing thin coats or long-sleeved autumn-winter shirts to go to class. The cold wind carried dust and dry leaves rustling the road surface.

Looking at the children going to school, I remember the winters when I was teaching in the highlands of Si Ma Cai more than ten years ago. In the winter land where the fog covered the way, for a week or even a month without seeing the sun, the Mong children only had a thin shirt and torn old honeycomb sandals to go to school. Although the classroom doors and windows were closed, the mist still followed the openings into the room, I felt sympathy for the children who were studying but their lips were purple from the cold, and their hands were numb, and their handwriting was not round.

In those days, schools in Si Ma Cai did not have as many boarding rooms as they do now, middle school and high school students living dozens of kilometers away from school to make temporary shacks along the roadside to go to school for close. Clothes and blankets were old and torn, and the meal was only a bowl of white rice with vegetables dipped in salt and pepper. Every meal had a few pieces of fish sauce. On cold days, dense fog accompanied by cold, numbing rain, clothes and blankets soaked with dew. Winter was also the dry season and the geysers gradually dried up. After school, both teachers and students had to use cans to carry water to cook and live. After washing the face, leave the hands and feet to wash. Water for washing rice or washing vegetables was also very economical, not pouring it but to irrigate the vegetable beds in the garden.

Winter in the highlands is also entering the fog and cloud season. Winter fog is an obsession for drivers because visibility is limited to only a few meters, although the yellow light is turned on to see the road better, but the front is only a white color like a vague, damaged world. Walking forever in the fog, hair, eyelashes, eyebrows are also white because of the dew, and hands and feet are numb and red from wet and cold.

If fog brings a feeling of boredom, winter clouds are full of charm. Overcoming the layer of fog, going higher, wow, meeting the warm sunshine, looking down is a beautiful sea of clouds floating. I remember the winters conquering Fansipan, Ky Quan San, and Lao Than peaks "hunting" clouds. Standing in front of the flowing rivers of clouds, that immense sea of clouds, all the fatigue of the climbing journey suddenly disappeared, leaving only the feeling of adventure like in a wonderland. The village, mountains and forests are hidden in the fanciful clouds, surprisingly beautiful, especially when the sun shines down, making each thin layer of clouds more brilliant.

Afternoon sun on the drying yard.

The cold winter makes many people dislike it, but it also has its own and attractive flavors. In the early winter evening, wandering on the small streets, it is easy to feel the sweet scent of milk flowers, spreading and settling in the space. The scent that is sometimes passionate, sometimes faint in the wind makes people suddenly feel flustered and nostalgic. People who are in love suddenly fall in love with the scent of milk flowers and the winter cold, it makes people want to get closer together, love also becomes more poetic. Lonely people crave a warm embrace, and those who are far apart remember a sky full of memories, a tree-lined bench, a handshake, a first kiss...

Remember the highlands of Lao Cai on the days of white snow on the roof.

This afternoon, the northeast monsoon came, bringing the first cold of the season, signaling a long winter has come. Riding on the foggy highland roads, I have passed through fields scented with straw, straw and fragrant smoke, passing through areas of distant childhood memories. Remember the smell of mud of a childhood attached to the field. Remember the white reed hill like cotton fluttering in the golden afternoon sun. Remember the thin hands of grandmothers and mothers. Remembering the dry, cracked cheeks and lips of the children in the past, the sound of the buffalo muzzle knocking on the distant memories over the years...

According to LCDT

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