Search

Legends Under Maple Trees

BY GERALD GAO


My hometown Qingdao is a coastal and historical city in China. It's not as big as Beijing nor as bustling as Shanghai. Qingdao is more like a quiet child that’s full of life. In Qingdao, you can not only breathe the fresh air from the sea every day, but also you are immersed in its rich history . On the fence of May 4th Square, seagulls stand in line by the sea. All trouble disappears as people look out into the endless blue sky and enjoy the fresh air. Bada Guan (Ba means eight, it consists of eight “guans”— “streets”) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Qingdao. All of Bada Guan is wrapped up in maple trees. Entering the alley feels like stepping into a wonderland, and the red flame of maple trees blazes overhead. In the midst of all these trees, there is a beautiful school — my elementary school — Jiayu Guan School.

The familiar wind blew through the maple leaves and onto my cheek. I breathed in the same air that I did nine years ago, as fresh and clean as before. Walking ahead, I saw a huge yellow-green maple leaf, and I jumped on it. However, I could barely hear the chorus of the cicadas. Nor could I see the children who liked to use long, sticky poles to catch and trap them. I then came upon an opening surrounded by thousands of maple trees. It was my school! This was the school where I spent my childhood.

Unconsciously, I opened my eyes, but I immediately shut them.

Two buildings have not changed since I graduated. Although the sound of the wind rustling the leaves was very loud as I walked to the sports field, I could still clearly hear the sound of my footprint, six years ago, hitting the ground. The scene was playing back and forth in my head. At 8 o’clock, taking a couple flights of stairs to the second floor, students were reading aloud. A studious atmosphere filled the campus. Continuing to walk, I discovered myself rubbing my sleepy eyes in Classroom 1 and getting ready for the first period in the morning.

Signaled by the ringing of the bell, class was over! The break between the first and second period was only five minutes, so everyone stayed where they were. Some students turned their heads and started chatting with classmates behind them; some were lying on their desks and took a little nap. Qiu and Li, the naughtiest, would start dancing in front of the whole class or go out for a little run until the teacher came back. Everyone was amused and laughed at their actions.

“Good Morning Everyone!” said the teacher, “Good Morning Mrs. Wang.!”

I carried my joy and flew out the door. People were lying on the grass under the yellow maple trees, enjoying the symphony created by the birds and bell of the school. The fences on the wall always stood there solemnly, like loyal soldiers protecting the students. Whenever someone asks me about my elementary school, I always proudly say that I was a student from Jiayu Guan School.

I remember that it was a chilly day, and our school had a jump rope contest. Jumping rope was one of my best skills, I had never lost to anyone in my school. I was indispensable in that contest. I started to prepare a week prior, getting my shoes ready, training everyday... I wished I could win both the double and single championship. On the day of the contest, my father told me to “eat a lot at breakfast and less at lunch.” That way, I could have a lighter body. However, the math teacher ruined all my plans. Because I was too excited about the contest, I had forgotten to do my homework the day before, so I had to do double homework in which the teacher gave me extra questions to answer. The game was starting in a couple of minutes, and I definitely had no time to do that. I asked the teacher if I could do the extra work when I came back from the game, but she refused that and said, “You didn’t do homework last night, so you deserve this punishment. You have to finish the work before you go to the game.” The teacher seemed really adamant about this. The game was about to start, and I held my head tightly. The time was hustling, and the sound of the clock stabbed right into my chest. This anxious feeling rose to the extent that my body froze up. Suddenly, I found the teachers were correcting other students' work. I took the advantage of that and ran out without hesitation. I thought I could do triple homework when I came back and it would still be worth it. At that moment, my mind was conflicted -- one side was ecstatic and one side felt guilty.


It was no surprise that I got first place in both games. However, I dreaded at the thought that my math teacher would be so furious at me. To my surprise, when I went back, the math teacher did not get mad at me, but solemnly told me that she just wanted to teach me a lesson, so I would never forget my homework. My anxiousness was released, and I knew I should always remember to finish my homework.

Jiayu Guan School loved and nurtured me, while teaching me responsibility. My memories have settled on the maple leaves, and I won’t forget anything that happened under the maple tree. I grabbed a flaming red maple leaf, flew to the roof of the building, and stared at the ignited forest. I was as happy as a child stepping into the school for the first time.

I gradually woke up and opened my eyes, smiling at the ceiling.

The morning sunshine pours over my bed, and the smell of coffee filled the air. I’m not the little kid in Jiayu Guan School anymore, but a high school student studying abroad in the United States. More and more challenges are waiting for me, and to face them, I must have the same confidence that I had in the jump rope game.


Recent Posts

See All

Sharing culturally diverse stories to educate, inspire, and empower others.

IMG_1081%202_edited.png