(The general meaning: Looking into the sky, the Milky Way is wide, and the water is shining like a mirror. The Weaver Girl (Vega) constellation supports supports herself, and very busy with weaving back and forth all day long. Although she is busy it is difficult to weave gorgeous patterns. Seeing that the Cowherd constellation (Altair) shines, but he can’t maneuver the vehicle.)
Qixi Festival is also known as the “Qi Qiao Festival”. This day is a festival for beautiful girls who pray to the Heaven for happiness. It is said that on this traditional and romantic evening, the girls gathered under melon and fruit covered shed, drinking the sweet-scented osmanthus wine and snacking with melon seeds, longans, red dates, peanuts, and hazelnuts. They took out their own handcrafted work, such as tiger head hat, pomegranate skirt, fragrant purse, embroidered shoes, mandarin duck pillow and so on.
The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl
I’m working on a duet for flute and piano, entitled Episodes During the Plagued Summer, here’s the 5th Episodes, named “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”:
Historically there have many Chinese poems written on the theme of Qixi Festival there are two are real classics.
The first one is entitled 迢迢牽牛星-佚名（東漢） Far, Far Away, the Cowherd-Anonymous（Han Dynasty）
“迢迢牽牛星， Far, far away, the Cowherd,
皎皎河漢女。 Fair, fair, the Weaving Maid,
纖纖擢素手， Nimbly move her slender white finger,
札札弄機杼。 Click-clack goes her weaving-loom.
終日不成章， All day she weaves, yet her web is still not done.
泣涕零如雨。 And her tears fall like rain.
河漢清且淺， Clear and shallow the Milky Way,
相去復幾許？ They are not far apart!
盈盈一水間， But the stream brims always between.
脈脈不得語。 And, gazing at each other,they cannot speak.
(Translated by Yang Xianyi, Dai Naidie)
The second one is entitled 秋夕-杜牧（唐朝） An Autumn Night –Du Mu (Tang Dynasty)
銀燭秋光冷畫屏， A candle flame flickers against a dull painted screen on an cool autumn night,
輕羅小扇撲流螢。 She holds a small silk fan to flap away dashing fireflies.
天階夜色涼如水， Above her hang celestial bodies as frigid as deep water,
坐看牽牛織女星。 She sat there watching Altair of Aquila and Vega of Lyra pining for each other in the sky.
(Translated by Betty Tseng)
These two ancient poems are metaphorical, euphemistic and intriguing. The poets’ deep love is vividly expressed through descriptions, such as ”Far, far away, the Cowherd”, “Fair, fair, the Weaving Maid”, “a dull painted screen”, “flap away dashing fireflies” and so on.
I found a modern version of the “Cowherd and Weaver Girl” pop song on the internet sung by the Chinese singer Bai Xue. It is like a new Maotai (a famous Chinese rice liquor) bottled in a vintage carafe. Qixi Festival is the ageless.
Cowherd and Weaver Girl
“The word of Love is divided into two,
The Heaven breaks two people,
In the past,
There was a heartbroken couple.
See through, suffering from love,
Dance just for the breeze,
Once Qixi, counting on the cold winter.
The river is divided into two,
It separates two lovers,
Don’t hear or ask,
Only blame the Heaven.
The birds attract each other,
Rebuild the human relationship,
All the way with same sound and shadow,
The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl meet the Magpie Bridge,
Even if the wind and rain cannot stop their love.
Despite it is difficult for a thousand miles meeting,
For the one you love, you follow forever.”
Since I came to the United States 34 years ago, despite that I have melted into the multicultural environment I still cherish customs from my ancestors. All Chinese traditional festivals are always celebrated at our home. Tonight, the bright moon was shining and the stars were twinkling. I picked some fresh vegetables from my organic garden and made some romantic home-cooked dishes to enjoy myself:
- Husband and Wife Beef Tablets： (It was given the American name as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”): this is a well-known Chinese appetizer I could think of off the top of my head. . In mid-summer, I have all kinds of colorful chili peppers in my vegetable garden blooming, and you can pick a handful of them.
“Mr and Mrs Smith is a famous dish in Chengdu, Sichuan, created by Guo Chaohua and Zhang Tianzheng. It is usually made of beef scalp, beef heart, beef tongue and tripe. Beef is the main ingredient, marinated before stewing. Then slicing them. Next pouring the sliced beef with red chili oil made from peppers and other auxiliary materials It is beautiful in color, tender in texture, spicy and fragrant, very tasty. In May 2017, the “GQ Magazine” released the “2017 American Dining Rankings” written by Brett Martin (who is a Correspondent and Chief Food Critic for GQ Magazine), the signature cold dish “Husband and Wife Beef Tablets” at Pepper Twins Sichuan Restaurant in Houston topped the list and was voted “Appetizer of the Year”.
- Concubine Sea Cucumbers and Chicken Wings: This dish I cook frequently. Some people compare sea cucumber to the soft and sleek concubine. She is inseparable from her lover “chicken wing”. Braised them with shiitake mushrooms and winter bamboo shoots. Add thick brown sauce made from soy sauce and brown sugar, cloves, green onions, gingers and rice wine. It’s really a delicacy.
- Cold Cucumber and Celery: My vegetable garden has several varieties of cucumbers this year. The most fragrant ones are green Chinese prickly cucumber, yellow lemon cucumber and white Armenian cucumber. Mixed them with scalded celery, chopped garlic, sesame oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper and a little sugar. It is a really cool and tasty summer dish.
- Scramble Eggs with Double-colored Tomatoes: This everyday home cooking dish is special, because the red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes and green scallions all came from my own produces. Eggs are “matchmakers”, combining red tomatoes and yellow tomatoes together.
- Mandarin Duck Rice Cake: Osmanthus Sweet-scented Red and White Rice Cakes：I found 2 pieces sugared rice cakes in the freezer, one red, one white. I fried them in peanut oil, then put them in a decorated pattern on a plate and sprinkle them with sweet-scented osmanthus. It is a sticky and inseparable dish, symbolizing a pair mandarin ducks who are “glued” together.
Qixi Festival was the birthday of Li Yu (李煜, 937-978), the emperor of the Southern Tang Dynasty in 978 AD. On the day of Qixi, after drinking a few cups of wine, he wrote the famous poem entitled “Yu Meiren (虞美人, Lady Yu, the Royal Beauty/Concubine): Spring Flowers and Autumn Moon”:
“Spring flowers and autumn moon, O when will all these end?
How much of my past I comprehend?
Last night, to my loft once more, the vernal east wind came;
In moonlight, I could not bear to look back towards my homeland rid of my name.
Jade steps and carved railings may still as ever be there,
Though changed are the faces fair.
O how great, how grave, I ask, can my woe and sorrow be?
Just like the River’s swelling spring-tide waters rolling east to the sea.”
At present, the United States is the country with the worst epidemic situation in the world. Due to the incompetence of government leadership, the inadequate public health system, too many anti-science and anti-education people who have no self-disciplines. We have been isolated at home for nearly half a year. This year’s Presidential Election Day has become a day of hope. My friends and I are eager to vote on November 3. We are hungry!!!
Shanghai writer Shen Qiaosheng wrote in his most recent blog entitled “2020 Has Only Gone Halfway, And We Have Experienced the Things of 2 Lifetimes” (8/5/2020):
“In 2020, how will we survive these crises? Then in 2021, 2022… and beyond? Can all human beings survive on this planet unscathed? Do we still have this qualification? If the answer is Yes, in what form will this planet survive? What kind of new economic and political order will mankind establish? During the ruthless collisions, how will civilization and faith be tempered? How will the leaders in major countries lead their own countries to escape from dangers and make peace? Can they steer the big ship to avoid the traps of war? Can tens of thousands of nuclear bombs not be thrown at each other, and eventually be destroyed consciously? In a word, what kind of tomorrow will mankind have? Rationality tells us that we can only cope with the world positively and logically. This is true for every country, as well as every individual person.”
Shen Qiaosheng is right! We have survived the spring and the summer, and the autumn is the Presidential Election. I hope the black swan theory will not be happening again. I wish that when Christmas comes in the winter, we will all raise our gassed to celebrate.
The love story between the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl teaches us being faithful.