Our Laughter Rang Out on All the Hills

March 5 is “Learn from Lei Feng Day” in China. Here’s a story from Changing Every Day that mentions him. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:

My Childhood in the Countryside

Pei Ci Kuang

池塘边的榕树上,知了在声声叫着夏天,黑板上老师的粉笔还在拼命吱吱喳喳写个不停,等待着夏天,等待着明天,迷迷糊糊的童年。(Banyan tree at the pond, cicadas call in the summer, chalk on the black board, teacher still writes non-stop, waiting for summer, waiting for tomorrow, stumbled childhood)

Do you still remember this nursery rhyme? My childhood was spent in the countryside. I have fond memories.

In spring, plants would start to sprout, animals come out to get some fresh air. After festival, the temperature rose and rain fall increased, and it was high time for spring plowing and sowing. We expected to have a good year! When we were done after school, we queued and sang:”学习雷锋, 好榜样,忠于革命,忠于党’’ (Learn Lei Feng, good role model, loyal to the revolution, loyal to the party.) We went on adventures together, giving everyone a nickname: Corsair, Devil, Pirate, Sailor. Our laughter rang out on all the hills, and in the cave came the echo. Thinking the big people were telling ghost stories, we ran home, completely forgetting what we needed to do. When we took a shower in the evening, our bodies were full of mud, and adults yelled at us, “Crazy kids!” We smiled at each other, discussing tomorrow.

In summer, when grass and trees looked greener than ever, we saw flowers everywhere in every color we could imagine. We didn’t go to school, which left more time to play outside. We created our toys, using bamboo to make a gun, with small fruit as bullets. We played field operation on the mountain. We climbed up the tree to pick star fruits. We went to the mountains to pick up small black fruits. It was enough for our slender mouths to eat for a whole summer. We went swimming in a small river. We got together to enjoy the cool air on the patio. What wonderful summer days!

In fall, the roosters’ crows resounded in the morning in the quiet village and the alleys of small traders. A busy day started on the farmland. Everywhere were busy people’s shadows. Harvest season was coming! After school, our greatest pleasure was to fly kites. We used newspaper and bamboo to make them. They hung up in the sky, symbols of our dreams and our thoughts of our loved ones. We walked in the fields between. Everywhere was a vibrant scene.

In winter, water flowed in the quiet lake, sunlight shone on the lake, and birds flying across the river made ripples. The hill became quiet. We also calmed down, but we still had many activities. We played jump rope, flight chess, cards, hide and seek. That was our happy hour!

My childhood friends, how is your situation? Do our hometown hills look the same? Does the hometown water taste sweet? Do you tell your kids our stories?


To read more stories from Changing Every Day, click here.


Fall Back!

The time changes at 2 am this Sunday – that’s because Daylight Savings Time is ending. No one really understands Daylight Savings Time – all we know is that you turn your clock one hour ahead in the spring and one hour back in the fall. In other words…

Spring forward, fall back.

Autumn in New York

Here’s a classic song by the late, great Billie Holiday having to do with fall in the Big Apple:

Autumn in New York
Written by Vernon Duke
Performed by Billie Holiday

Autumn in New York
Why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York
It spells the thrill of first-nighting
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds
In canyons of steel
They’re making me feel
I’m home

It’s autumn in New York
That brings the promise of new love
Autumn in New York
Is often mingled with pain
Dreamers with empty hands
May sigh for exotic lands
It’s autumn in New York
It’s good to live it again.

Autumn in New York
The gleaming rooftops at sundown
Autumn in New York
It lifts you up when you’re let down
Jaded roué and gay divorcée who lunch at the Ritz
Will tell you that it’s

This autumn in New York
Transforms the slums in Mayfair
Autumn in New York
You’ll need no castle in Spain
Lovers that bless the dark
On benches in Central Park
Greet autumn in New York
It’s good to live it again.

Summer’s Almost Gone

Here’s a fitting song for the end of summer – a classic from the immortal Doors:

Summer’s Almost Gone

By The Doors

Summer’s almost gone
Summer’s almost gone
Almost gone
Yeah, it’s almost gone
Where will we be
When the summer’s gone?

Morning found us calmly unaware
Noon burn gold into our hair
At night we swim the laughin’ sea
When summer’s gone
Where will we be?
Where will we be?
Where will we be?

Morning found us calmly unaware
Noon burn gold into our hair
At night we swim the laughin’ sea
When summer’s gone
Where will we be?

Summer’s almost gone
Summer’s almost gone
We had some good times
But they’re gone
The winter’s comin’ on
Summer’s almost gone

Two More Summer Poems

From About.com Poetry:

I Know I Am But Summer to Your Heart

Edna St. Vincent Millary

I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of spring.

Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.


Carl Sandburg

Back Yard

Carl Sandburg

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
to-night they are throwing you kisses.

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
cherry tree in his back yard.

The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
white thoughts you rain down.

Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.


Two Summer Poems

From About.com Poetry:

In the Mountains on a Summer Day
Li Po, translated by Arthur Waley

Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.


Poem 1386
Emily Dickinson

Summer — we all have seen —
A few of us — believed —
A few — the more aspiring
Unquestionably loved —

But Summer does not care —
She goes her spacious way
As eligible as the moon
To our Temerity —

The Doom to be adored —
The Affluence conferred —
Unknown as to an Ecstasy
The Embryo endowed —


It’s a Cruel, Cruel Summer

Here’s a song that pretty much summarizes our feelings about summer. Execpt where it says “dry” – because it’s really humid here!

Cruel Summer
by Bananarama

Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile but the air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying (What did they say?)
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, (it’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone

The city is crowded, my friends are away and I’m on my own
It’s too hot to handle, so I got to get up and go

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, (it’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone