My father came from a small town called Majiaobu, the town that grows the most famous green tea in China. I spent nearly all of my childhood with that small town and the plantation which fulfilled by the memory I shared with my grandpa. That plantation deeply rooted in my heart and like a Pure land, which taught me where I came from, and where I belonged to. I told myself that I was passioned about the lifestyle that I experienced with my grandfather, and I might end up living in the mountain that I have climbed for over hundreds of times. However, there is no medicine for regrets, the memories I had with my grandpa was the most valuable passion I was looking for. The plantation in my heart was formed with those memories with my grandpa, because of that I’m no longer a vagrant who trying to find a homeland.
Five years ago, West Lake’s successful application to become a World Culture Heritage site placed urban renovation at the top of local government’s agenda. My nearby hometown, Maojiabu, took the brunt of urbanization, despite its recognition as the only historical district that reflects Hangzhou’s traditional lifestyle along the lake. When the government of Hangzhou announced development plans for my town, I was surprised how others saw my home differently than I did: a place where green tea is grown traditionally and where antique buildings display inscriptions of our heritage. Would Maojiaburemain its essence after all the renovation?
I remember standing silently in front of the warning signs by the construction site, watching revered buildings break into small pieces. My memory of the space grew murky like the clouds of dust in front of me. Grandpa patted my shoulder and mentioned dinner to make me snap back into reality, but fleeting remnants of the past were ubiquitous. Returning to my grandparents’ house, I saw smoke curling from the chimney with the fragrance of tea filling the air.
During the meal, Grandpa told me stories of his day and reminisced about my childhood—details that I had long forgotten such as my first time using a tea-pan or when I got stuck between two tea trees. I felt time fleeing away as I heard my Grandpa’s stories over a meal of my favorite foods.
The next day, my grandfather and I went to the tea garden early in the morning, bringing a bucket of cold water from the well to begin a new day.
Tagore once wrote in Stray Birds: “If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you also miss the stars.” I cherish the lessons I learned from Grandpa as the most valuable treasure in my life, so I maintain his garden as my creative homage to heritage in the face of modern pressure. Whenever I stroll through my family’s tea garden, a surge of warmth fills my heart, like the morning rain that nourishes new tea buds.