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The Xu and Li families headed to the big greenhouse together and immediately started picking peppers, garlic shots, string beans… They were so busy there wasn’t any time to rest, but everyone’s hearts were burning with energy and full of joy and longing for the future.
Even Xu Fan and Da Zhuang helped collect vegetables in the big greenhouse. The two little guys’ small meaty hands grabbed a tomato and pulled back. When they ripped it, they tossed it into the bamboo basket before continuing…They pulled four to five more, and the two little guys became very tired. They squatted beside the bamboo basket and looked at the cucumbers and tomatoes inside the bamboo basket.
“Wow! So much!” Xu Fan’s milky voice was full of surprise.
Da Zhuang added, “The two of us collected these!”
“My daddy planted it.”
“My daddy also planted it.”
Xu Fan nodded and said, “Mn, our daddies planted them together.”
Da Zhuang nodded, “yes.”
Once they finished speaking, the two little guys suddenly fell into a strange silence. The two pairs of watery eyes stared at the cucumbers and tomatoes inside the basket, their eyes full of greed. After a moment, Da Zhuang spoke, “Tomatoes are tasty.”
Xu Fan said, “Cucumbers are also tasty.”
After a while, Da Zhuang said again, “Sanwa, I want to eat tomatoes.”
Xu Fan smacked his little lips, as if swallowing his saliva. His small meaty hands reached into the bamboo basket. He pressed a tomato and said, “You can’t eat it. T-t-these are for sale. You can’t eat.”
“I’ll only eat one.”
“No, we sell for money. After we sell for money, we can eat.”
Xu Zhao insisted, not allowing him to eat.
Da Zhuang thought for a moment, then said, “After we sell for money, we can buy pickled plum powder.”
Xu Fan then said, “After we sell for money, Daddy will give me two cents. I’ll buy two bags of pickled plum powder. T-t-there will be two spoons. I like spoons.”
“I also like spoons.”
Xu Fan used the bamboo basket to support himself as he stood. “T-then I’ll pick a tomato to sell for money to buy pickled plum powder.”
“I’ll go too.”
The two little guys ran to pull more tomatoes. If they couldn’t pull one, then they would try another. If they couldn’t pull any of them, they would go to pull peppers. Although they didn’t do much, the two little guys didn’t stay idle. From the big greenhouse, they followed the Xu and Li families to the small greenhouse to collect potatoes.
All the way until Da Zhuang’s ox cart was full, Da Zhuang’s father and Da Zhuang’s grandpa pulled it away. It wasn’t until two hours later that they finally stopped. Mother Xu turned her head to look at Xu Fan and Da Zhuang and was startled. The adults were all busy, and as long as the two little guys didn’t have any problems and weren’t in danger, the adults let them play as they wished. Just like during the busy farming period, the adults of South Bay Village didn’t pay attention to the children.
But now that she was idle, she discovered that Xu Fan and Da Zhuang had become caked with mud, especially Xu Fan. His clothes, hands, face, and head were caked with mud.
“Oh my, Sanwa!” Mother Xu said, “How did you get so dirty?”
“I-I picked potat. Da Zhuang also picked potat.” Xu Fan couldn’t fully say “potato.”
“You wouldn’t get this dirty from picking them.”
“I picked a lot!” In fact, it wasn’t a lot since he wasn’t able to pull them out.
“…Quickly come home with me to wash up or else when your dad comes home, he won’t dare to look at you.” Mother Xu turned to call Da Zhuang’s grandma and said, “Look at your Da Zhuang. He’s also caked in mud.”
“I’ll also take him home to wash up.”
And so, the Xu and Li families pulled Xu Fan and Da Zhuang to their respective homes to wash their grandson’s face and hands. Mother Xu washed up Xu Fan as she also nagged at him. Xu Fan kept silent and let Mother Xu wash him. One he was washed, he said, “Grandma, rub fragrance on me.”
“You even want fragrance?” Mother Xu asked with a laugh.
Xu Fan nodded. “Mn, Daddy said that you have to put on fragrance after washing your face. If you don’t, you will get wrinkly, and I won’t be handsome.”
Mother Xu laughed, “You won’t get wrinkles yet. I’ll rub clam oil on you.”
“No oil. I want fragrance.”
The so-called fragrance was Yumeijing’s children’s cream that he had specially ran to the county town’s numerous streets to buy for Xu Fan. He had originally wanted to buy vanishing cream, but it seemed that vanishing cream wasn’t really suitable for children. Children’s cream was better for Xu Fan. And as expected, as soon as Xu Fan started using the children’s cream, Xu Fan started to dislike the clam oil, claiming it was too oily and not breathable. After he washed his face in the morning, he had to put on the children’s cream or else he wouldn’t be handsome anymore.
“Okay, okay. I’ll rub fragrance on you.”
Mother Xu smiled and headed to the west wing. She picked up the bag on the table that contained the children’s cream, squeezed out a bit, and rubbed it on Xu Fan’s face. Xu Fan immediately reached out his small meaty hands and said, “Grandma, my hands also want fragrance. My hands too.”
“Okay, I’ll give you fragrance for your hands too. Rub it into your hands yourself,” Mother Xu smiled and said, “Sanwa, why are you so obsessed with your looks? Who do you take after?”
“Take after Daddy.”
“Your daddy isn’t obsessed with his looks.”
“Daddy already looks good!1This is hard to translate into English. In Chinese, obsessed with their looks/vain is 臭美 (stinky beauty). What Xu Fan says is 香美 (fragrant beauty), which isn’t an actual word, but he says it as a joke.”
Mother Xu smiled and pinched Xu Fan’s chubby face. At this time, the phone on the table rang. Mother Xu quickly answered it, and Xu Zhao’s voice came from the other side. Mother Xu happily called, “Xu Zhao. Xu Zhao, where are you?”
“Mom, I’m at Qingfeng’s home.”
Mother Xu immediately smiled and said, “Did you receive the ox cart Da Zhuang’s father sent over?”
Xu Zhao said on the other side, “Yes, I received it.”
“How did this ox cart full of vegetables sell?” Mother Xu asked.
“Very well, but there’s still not enough to sell.”
“Still not enough to sell?” Mother Xu’s face was full of surprise.
“Mn, we’ll need to go back soon to pull another cartful over.”
“Okay, I’ll go collect more vegetables with your dad now.”
“If you guys are tired, you can wait for me to come home.” Xu Zhao was worried the two elders would get tired.
“We’re not tired. This is nothing.”
“That’s okay. In any case, you should be careful and don’t tire yourself out. Once I take care of things here, I’ll go back so we can harvest vegetables together. Oh, right. How’s Xu Fan?”
Mother Xu lowered her head to look at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan had heard Xu Zhao’s voice a while ago. He was currently pulling Mother Xu’s pants and calling out Daddy. Mother Xu smiled and placed the phone next to Xu Fan’s ear. Xu Fan immediately grabbed it with his small meaty hands, his milky voice squeaky as he shouted, “Daddy!”
Xu Zhao’s laugh immediately came from the other side, “Daddy heard you.”
Xu Fan asked with a serious face, “Daddy, did you eat yet?” He learned this common phrase from the adults.
Xu Zhao knew Xu Fan and earnestly replied, “I ate. Did you eat yet?”
“I ate too, but I’m hungry again.”
“You’re hungry so soon. What did you do this morning?”
“I collected veggies!” Xu Fan said matter-of-factly.
“You collected vegetables? What vegetables did you collect?”
“I collected tomotos, cumbers, limps.”
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and leeks. He didn’t say the name of a single vegetable correctly. However, Xu Zhao still cheered him on and said, “Wow, our Xu Fan, Xu Sanwa is so amazing.”
Xu Fan’s small face immediately bloomed with a smile as he earnestly said, “Mn, I’m amazing!”
“That’s right, Xu Fan is amazing. Daddy needs to go sell vegetables. You stay at home and continue being amazing. We’ll see each other at noon.”
After saying goodbye, Xu Fan handed the phone to Mother Xu. Since Daddy praised him by saying he was amazing, he was extremely happy. Standing beside Mother Xu, his beautiful body swayed side to side as if he was drunk. Mother Xu knew that the little guy was secretly happy again. Who did his personality take over? Xu Zhao wasn’t like this.
But it was still very cute. Mother Xu led Xu Fan, Father Xu, and Da Zhuang’s grandma to the big greenhouse to collect vegetables again. No one had time to watch Xu Fan and Da Zhuang as they were naturally busy working inside the big greenhouse.
After busting about for a while, they heard a bicycle’s ring from outside the big greenhouse. Xu Fan immediately dropped a sentence “Daddy is back,” then quickly padded his short legs to run outside of the big greenhouse. He naturally saw Xu Zhao ride the bike over.
“Daddy! Ahh! Daddy!” Xu Fan was so excited he started jumping as he quickly ran toward Xu Zhao. “Daddy, you’re back! Daddy!”
Why was this little guy so excited?!
Xu Zhao quickly got off the bicycle and steadied it. Before he even reached Xu Fan, he bent down, then strode to Xu Fan as he lifted Xu Fan into his arms. He kissed Xu Fan’s tender cheeks a few times before asking, “What are you doing?”
“I’m collecting veggies!” Xu Fan said.
“Where are your grandparents?”
Grandma, Grandpa, Granma Li, and Da Zhuang are collecting vegetables.”
“Then we should collect vegetables too.”
Xu Zhao hugged Xu Fan as he entered the big greenhouse. He collected vegetables as he spoke of the circumstances of selling vegetables at the vegetable market to Mother Xu and the others. This year was different from previous years. Besides the bumper harvest, since the government policy had relaxed, all professions developed very well. Especially those who went out to work had increased, therefore everyone had more money on hand. It was rare to come home to celebrate the new year together, so they all wanted to eat and dress a bit better, so they weren’t stingy with spending money.
In addition, there were too few vegetables during the winter. Therefore, when Xu Zhao pulled his ox cart to the county town, once there were more people, they all fought over it. Even though the price was a bit more expensive than usual, it didn’t prevent the vegetables from becoming chart-toppers.
The Xu and Li families were happy to hear this and became even more energetic as they worked.
Mother Xu smiled and asked, “Where are Da Zhuang’s father and Da Zhuang’s grandpa?”
Xu Zhao said, “Behind me. I rode the bicycle back so I can harvest vegetables with you guys. We’ll wait for them to arrive and then we can head back to the county town again.”
“Are there still people buying vegetables now?” Da Zhuang’s grandma asked.
“Yes. There will probably be people buying vegetables until noon. Since the new year is coming up, everyone wants to buy vegetables to prepare.”
After a while, Da Zhuang’s father and Da Zhuang’s grandpa pulled the ox cart back. The two were very diligent as they joined the team collecting vegetables. Half an hour later, the ox cart and bicycle were filled with various vegetables.
Neither Da Zhuang’s father nor Da Zhuang’s grandpa knew how to ride a bicycle, so the two pulled the ox cart. Xu Zhao rode the bicycle to the market first, but on the front handlebars sat—Xu Fan.
Today, the Xu and Li families collected vegetables three times. It truly was very tiring, so they didn’t have the energy to watch the child. Da Zhuang could be watched by the pregnant Da Zhuang’s mother, so that Da Zhuang’s grandma could rest. Xu Fan could only be brought away by Xu Zhao or else Mother and Father Xu would get sick from exhaustion. And so, Xu Zhao peddled the bicycle to the vegetable market first.
At the entrance of the market, in addition to Cui Qingfeng who was standing in the space beside the ox cart, there were also those who were looking to buy onions, garlic shoots, potatoes, and etc. Xu Zhao placed a sack of vegetables onto the ox cart, and a crowd of people immediately rushed forward. Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng quickly took the scale. One weighed the items as the other rang them up.
After a while, Da Zhuang’s father and Da Zhuang’s grandpa pulled the ox cart over and quickly laid the items out in the vegetable market. When all the vegetables from the three ox carts and one bicycle were completely sold out, there were still people coming to buy vegetables. Xu Zhao and the others never excited business to be so good. They were exhausted and sore, and could only tell the customers that they wouldn’t have more vegetables to sell until tomorrow.
They squatted beside the ox cart to rest. At the time, Mother Cui, who was resting today, specially carried over a pot of hot water to quench their thirst. When she saw Xu Fan, she naturally pulled him into her embrace and gave him a huge hug, then turned to Xu Zhao and asked, “How many vegetables do you still have at home?”
Xu replied, “About half more.”
“Mn, we planted a lot.” Mainly, it was because Xu Zhao was very attentive to the big greenhouse, therefore the harvest was more impressive.
“Then why didn’t you bring more over to sell?” Mother Cui pointed around and said, “I see a lot more people wanting to buy.”
Xu Zhao truthfully said, “We can’t bring anymore. We only have one ox cart, so we can only bring a limited amount. However, I plan to borrow the village’s tractor tomorrow.”
Mother Cui added, “Right, you should find a bigger vehicle so you can bring more. If Qingfeng’s youngest uncle was home, it would be so convenient to use his company’s truck!”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Youngest uncle is currently in the imperial capital. He won’t be back for a few days.”
Youngest uncle was currently in the imperial capital—
Hearing this, Cui Qingfeng looked at Xu Zhao and asked, “Xu Zhao, how do you know Youngest uncle is in the imperial capital?”
Xu Zhao smiled and answered, “Youngest uncle called me yesterday.”