再寻桃花源 ~ 【鸟的天堂】
刘士聪 译 鸟的天堂
We had supper at Chen’s school. The heat had subsided. The sun had gone down behind the hills, leaving its glorious glow on the horizon, on top of the hills and on tips of the trees.
“Let’s go boating!” Chen suggested. We were standing by the pond in front of the school gate, watching the scene over the hills and on tips of the trees.
“Good idea,” the other friends fell in with him cheerfully.
We went along a gravel path for some distance and soon got to the river. There was a straw pavilion by the water. We went past the pavilion and found a couple of small boats under two tall trees along the river.
We jumped into one of them one after another. A friend unfastened the rope and pushed off the boat with a bamboo pole, and the boat moved slowly toward the middle of the river.
Three of us took turns to row the boat, and Chen and I sat enjoying the scene around.
On the hillside in the distance there stood a tower surrounded by many green trees. Such towers were hard to find elsewhere in the neighborhood. That was where Chen’s home was located.
The river was wide, the whitish water was undisturbed and the boat was floating on its smoothly. The three oars were paddling in the water with regular rhythm.
The river narrowed at one point. Clusters of tree leaves, leaves with lovely greenness, reached out over the water. They were many exuberant banyan trees, but their trunks were invisible.
As soon as I said they were “many” banyan trees, I was corrected by my friends. One of them said it was only one, and another said there were two. I had seen many big banyans before, but it was the first time I had seen a banyan as big as this one.
Our boat was nearing the tree, and I was able to see at close hand what it looked like: it was a huge tree, with numerous branches out of which roots grew and many of them drooped to the ground and dug into the earth. Some branches hung down to the water, looking from a distance like a big tree lying buoyant on top of it.
This was the season when trees were thick with dense branches and leaves (the tree began to bear small fruits and some had fallen). It looked as though the banyan was trying to show to us all of its exuberance. It’s so heavy with leaves in clusters, one piling on top of another, leaving hardly any space in between. The emerald green shimmered in front of our eyes, as if in every leaf there was a new life pulsating there. What beautiful trees of southern China.
Our boat slowed to a halt under the tree and stopped there for a moment. We did not get off to the bank as it was wet there. My friends said the tree was a “paradise” for the birds’; many birds had nested in it and peasants would not allow anyone to catch them. I seemed to have heard the sound of some birds flapping their wings, but when I turned to look I could not see any one there. Instead there were numerous roots standing on the ground like wood stakes. The ground was wet, probably washed by the tides. “Birds’ Paradise”, but there were no birds in it, I wondered. Our boat, poled by a friend, moved on and glided toward the middle of the river.
Along a path in the field not far from the river there were a few litchi trees. The trees were laid with red fruit hanging in the green leaves. Our boat moved further along. A friend rowed the boat off into a tributary stream and the boat stopped by the path. We all jumped off to the bank.
Two friends climbed up the trees and threw some fruit with leaves on them, and Chen, Ye and I stood under the trees catching the fruit from them. When they climbed down again we walked back to our boat, eating the fruit.
The next day we went by boat to Ye’s home where the hill stood with tower on it. We set off from Chen’s school and passed by the “Birds’ Paradise” again.
This time we started in the morning, with the sun falling on the water and on tip of the trees. Everything looked gloriously bright. Out boat stopped for a few moments under the tree.
At first it was very quiet all around. And suddenly, a twittering of birds arose. Chen clapped his hands and we saw a huge bird taking wing and flying up, and then we saw a second and a third following suit. We kept clapping hands and soon the forest became noisy. You heard birds’ chirpings everywhere, you saw birds’ shadows everywhere. There were big ones, small ones, colored ones and black ones. Some perched on the branches, singing, some flying in the air, and some fluttering their wings.
I watched them, but my eyes were not quick enough to follow them. When I saw this one, I lost sight o that one, and when I spotted that one, a third one flew off. And then a song thrush appeared, but the next moment it was startled back to the tree by our clappings. It alighted on a thin branch, singing songs that were very pleasant to the ear.
“Let’s move on.” Ye said to me.
When our boat moved toward the village under the tower and I turned about to see the huge exuberant banyan tree, I was a bit reluctant to take leave of it. My eyes had cheated me yesterday; the “Birds’ Paradise” was truly a paradise for the birds.