Yan Yue didn’t talk to Lu Lingxi for too long. Although the background of Xiao Xi’s call was as lively as a vegetable market, Yan Yue could easily distinguish the voice of Wang Shuxiu calling Xiao Xi back to eat dumplings. Gently hanging up the phone, Yan Yue stood alone in the courtyard for a long time and all the images of him and Lu Lingxi from their first meeting to the present passed through his mind. Yan Yue unconsciously smiled; the chill in his body faded away, and his expression softened.
After thinking about it, Yan Yue didn’t go back to his bedroom but went to find An Jie. He was in a good mood now, and the thought of leaving An Jie alone in his room made him feel guilty. Anyway, he had to go back and eat, so he could just eat with An Jie.
An Jie was quite happy to see Yan Yue at first, but soon he got a headache. He didn’t know what Yan Yue had been stimulated by, but he had to eat the dumplings with coins wrapped in them. An Jie had a strange look on his face, “Coins can be wrapped in dumplings?”
Yan Yue patiently explained to him, “It’s a custom, the person who gets the coin is lucky.”
An Jie didn’t think Yan Yue would believe in something like this, so he looked at him thoughtfully, “Did Xiao Xi get it?”
Yan Yue gave An Jie an affirmative look. An Jie was speechless for a long time and could only wait with Yan Yue on a hungry stomach to eat the dumplings with coins wrapped in them.
Lu Lingxi, who was far away in Fengcheng, didn’t know that Yan Yue was tossing the Yan family’s chef. He was currently setting off firecrackers in the vacant lot in the community. He and Xiao Hong had spent half a day playing in the morning, and in the evening, after dinner, the whole family went out and set off firecrackers together.
Xiao Feng placed a starry sky firecracker on the ground, handed Lu Lingxi a cigarette and instructed, “Be careful, light it up and run.”
Lu Lingxi nodded; he had already had experience in the morning, but he was still a bit nervous.
There were children around him cheering him on, “Go for it, Brother Xiao Xi!”
Dahei also barked cooperatively and Xiao Baiwan ran around him excitedly. Lu Lingxi smiled a bit shyly as he poked the cigarette and carefully lit the starry sky. With a bang, the firecracker exploded in the air, and countless dots of light lit up, shining like stars in the sky.
Lu Lingxi was watching with his head tilted up when he heard a loud bang. He didn’t take it seriously at first, just thinking that someone had lit a firecracker. Who knew that the noises would sound one after another. Xiao Hong said loudly, “It’s spring thunder. Spring thunder has come early this year.”
“Spring thunder? Is it going to rain?” Lu Lingxi asked in confusion.
Xiao Hong laughed, “It’s not going to rain, it’s dry thunder. It’s just the beginning of spring, where can the rain come from?”
As the two of them spoke, the white panel suddenly floated out. Lu Lingxi froze for a moment and took the opportunity to look at the panel. A blue river appeared on the panel. As if something had cracked open, the river that had been fixed began to flow slowly, as if it was actually there in front of Lu Lingxi.
“Primary river purification completed, rewarding plant hearts +100, power of nature +1.”
Primary river purification? Lu Lingxi immediately thought of the Lingshui River. Somewhat curiously he looked at the blue water image that was flowing in front of him and gently poked it with his hand. The cold touch made Lu Lingxi jolt, and his eyes suddenly widened as he poked it again in wonder.
It wasn’t his illusion, he seemed to really feel the coldness of the river water. When he calmed down, there was the vague sound of the river flowing. Lu Lingxi’s interest was completely piqued and he couldn’t wait to go to the Lingshui River immediately to see what was going on.
Today was New Year’s Eve, and after the village head Li Dayong had eaten dumplings, he started thinking about the fireworks in the evening. The village’s finances were in good shape this year and there was still a little money left at the end of the year. Li Dayong asked several village committee members to come up with a plan, and the village simply paid for someone to set off fireworks for half an hour in the evening of New Year’s Eve. The villagers praised Li Dayong for doing a good job. You don’t have to pay for the fireworks yourself and you can watch them for free, what can be better?
Originally, Li Dayong wanted to finish the fireworks as soon as possible, but the villagers disagreed. Wait until after the dumplings are wrapped and eaten, otherwise if everyone is busy wrapping dumplings, who will watch the fireworks? Li Dayong had no choice but to set the time at nine o’clock. The villagers all went to bed late on New Year’s Eve anyway, so there was no fear of affecting anyone’s rest.
“Ahem.” Li Dayong turned on the radio transmitter at home and spoke in a dialect.
“Villagers, villagers, the fireworks officially start at nine o’clock in the evening. The fireworks are scheduled to take place by the river, so those who want to go can go and have a look, but be sure to pay attention to safety. Attention parents with children, no one is allowed to let the children go near the river.”
“I repeat, villagers…”
As soon as the broadcast was finished, there were village children clamouring to go to the river to watch. Some parents were too lazy to go out, “You can watch it standing in the yard, what’s the fuss about going to the river!” The children disagreed and rolled around on the ground in their new clothes. The parents, distressed about the new clothes, rushed to grab the little brats. “We’ll go, we’ll go now.” There were many children making a scene like this, and in no time at all the river was filled with adults and children scurrying around.
Uncle Li and Auntie Li, dressed warmly, also stood by the river waiting to watch. Uncle Li muttered in a low voice, “You don’t have to come here, you can watch it in the yard at home.”
“What do you know?” Auntie Li was dissatisfied, “Is it to watch the fireworks? It is for fun.”
While the two of them were arguing, the firecrackers by the river were already shooting out colourful flames, transforming into flowers and other shapes in the air. Peonies, chrysanthemums, phoenixes, starry sky; the village people couldn’t take their eyes off them. Just as the crowd was captivated by the fireworks, a sudden loud bang exploded on the horizon.
“Spring thunder?” Uncle Li looked surprised and was about to say that spring thunder had come early this year when a crisp sound faintly rang out behind him. He hurriedly turned around and watched as the ice on the Lingshui River seemed to be slowly cracking, with small pieces of ice falling into the water, making silvery splashes.
“The ice has melted, so watch out if you have children in your family!” Uncle Li shouted, raising his voice.
Some of the villagers gathered around heard this and subconsciously turned to look over. On the Lingshui River, the previously dark layers of ice cracked one by one and fell into the river. As the water rumbled, the ice was quickly washed away, revealing the shimmering silver surface of the water. Under the illumination of the moonlight, the Lingshui River seemed to glow with stars, and the occasional splash of water was transparent and clear, completely devoid of its previous pollution.
Uncle Li took a few steps to the river and watched in surprise as the water returned to its previous unpolluted state, even cleaner than before. Silvery splashes of water stirred, green water plants stretched and swayed with the current, and a fresh water vapour surrounded him.
Uncle Li took a deep breath and couldn’t help but reach out and touch the river. The cold river water sent a shiver down his spine, but Uncle Li laughed with delight. He had long heard from that child, Xiao Xi, that they had taken over the project to purify the Lingshui River. Although he didn’t know when Xiao Xi had got it done, Uncle Li was convinced that the river’s clear water was due to Xiao Xi.
“What’s going on here?” Someone asked, bewildered.
“What else can happen?” Uncle Li explained, “The pollution is gone. The government has paid to purify it.”
“When was it purified?”
“What do you care about when?” Another person next to him replied impatiently, “It’s just purified.”
“Look how clear the water is, there should be fish by summer, right?”
“That’s right, the water birds or something should fly back this year.”
The villagers’ attention was soon drawn to the purified Lingshui River, They had not seen such a clear river in years. In the past, when the plastic factory in Songjia didn’t pollute the river, the water didn’t stink as much as when it was polluted, but people didn’t pay much attention to protecting it, and it was common to throw plastic bags and beverage bottles around. It was only after the plastic factory polluted the river that they realised how important the river was to them. Especially after the poisoning of the people in Songjia Village last time, the villagers of Lingshui Village were terrified, just in case they were also poisoned at some point in time.
“Let me say something.” Li Dayong squeezed in front of the crowd and said loudly, “As you can see, the government has spent money to give us the purified Lingshui River. Let’s not talk about the past, but in the future we can’t take environmental protection as lightly as we did before. From tomorrow onwards, no one is allowed to throw plastic bags or bottles into the river, and no one is allowed to pour dirty water from their homes into the river. Anyone caught breaking the rules will be fined fifty yuan a time, and at the end of the year, we’ll use the money to hire someone to set off fireworks.”
At first, some people were not satisfied with the fine and were about to protest. But when Li Dayong said that he would use the money to hire people to set off fireworks, the villagers laughed and those who wanted to make a scene stopped.
“This is a good idea from the village head. I’m an old man and I come to the river every day when I have nothing to do. Who dares to litter, I will keep an eye on you!” Uncle Xu shouted loudly.
Uncle Xu was a senior in the village, and if he had said so, then he must have taken it seriously. No one planned to spend fifty yuan to try Uncle Xu’s temper. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea. Everyone would take care of the Lingshui River in the future.
Li Dayong breathed a sigh of relief and began to emphasise safety again. Especially if you have little children at home, don’t let them run to the river by themselves; in case something happens, it would be too late to regret.
The villagers were talking loudly, and the firework setters couldn’t wait. “It was already ten o’clock, we’ll go back if we don’t set them off.”
“Set them off, set them off now.” Li Dayong hurriedly handed over a pack of cigarettes. He had said it would be over at half past nine, people had been waiting and he couldn’t let them suffer.
The next day Lu Lingxi learnt about what had happened in Lingshui Village. He called Uncle Li in the morning of the first day to pay his respects, and Uncle Li spoke excitedly about the changes in the Lingshui River. Last night Uncle Li felt that he couldn’t see clearly, so he went to the river again early in the morning to have a look. After a night of washing, the black ice was no longer visible. The clear, bottomless water meandered down from the upstream, occasionally splashing in a few small waves.
Uncle Li was happy, “Xiao Xi, you have done a good deed, a virtuous deed.”
Lu Lingxi was a little embarrassed by Uncle Li’s praise, thinking that he hadn’t actually done anything, it was all the panel’s doing. In his and Yan Yue’s plan, the Lingshui River was only the first step. He wanted to see if he could purify several polluted rivers in Fengcheng in this way.
But… Lu Lingxi thought of Yan Yue’s words. The purification of the rivers was only part of it. What was more important was the treatment of the emissions of big corporations, and even the adjustment of the industrial structure. If the corporations didn’t pay attention to their emissions, the purification would only reduce losses rather than avoid them. What’s more, if the corporations saw that the purification of the rivers was effective, instead they would pollute the environment even more recklessly.
Lu Lingxi hoped that what Yan Yue said wasn’t true; if only everyone could realise the importance of water sources like Lingshui Village.