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When I was a little boy, our economical condition was very backward and our parents were always worrying about where was the next meal coming from. They cherished and begrudged every penny. Therefore, no one in our town had such a lavish idea as to buy a toy for his or her child. |
However, the curiosity and toy playing were our children’s born nature, no matter we were from the rich or the poor. To self-support our toys, we had to turn to the nature instead of pestering parents. Of course, our various toys were not the dolls from department stores but some brilliant and exquisite insects from woods.
1) Cicada Capturing
At that time, Dong Shan Maintain seemed to be much higher, because there were dozen of hundred-years-old maples with 30 to 40 meters height growing on its top. Their trunks were so huge that even several children could not embrace them hand in hand. With their ever flourishing and vigorous leaves and branches, the trees erected Dong Shan’s figure by more than 30 meters.
In the early morning or immediately after a thunderstorm in summer, some amber and sticky syrup with pleasing smell would come out from their barks.
The syrup was most welcome by our children.
Every morning, we were dashing to the top and collecting the syrup with an empty inkbottle for two major reasons.
One was for medical use.
When a child suffered a boil, syrup was the best herb prescription. Drop some syrup on a maple leaf; put it on the affected part, shortly after a few days, the lump would disappear without any scar left.
The second function was for cicada capturing.
The cicada is known as “Beewoolee” in our local dialect. It was one of our most popular toys. Holding in a child’s palm or tired by a length of thread, “Beewoo , Beewoo…… “ it would constantly sing and fly. Its dark and shining body covered by its thin and transparent wings, like a black beauty after her bathing, always arose children’s surging imagination.
Therefore, to capture a cicada, the wonderful free toy, was our children’s dream and made us spare no effort.
Cicada was a sort of most alert insects. It always perched on the top of the trees. As soon as any sign of disturbance or trouble occurred, it would fly away immediately.
Therefore, it was our common practice, that after a hard journey, when we managed to reach a cicada, we would certainly be disappointed by its escaping in inches.
However, adhibition proved to be a most effective way for cicada hunting. Put some syrup on the top of a bamboo pole, approach to a singing cicada, after a miserable fluttering, the optimistic angle immediately became a prison on naughty boy’s hand.
As if were on a royal fete-day, we would be shouting and gamboling all the way to celebrate this significant achievement.
Since the syrup in Dong Shan Maintain was very limited, we had to find another substitute.
The bark of the willow was the best stuff for another adhering glue making. We sometimes went to the bank of Shi Hu Lake and peeled off a piece of willow bark, then, mashed it down and washed in the water. The bark residues were washed away and a clot of glue left. This was the exactly what we wanted.
(To be continued)