Friday, September 12, 2014

Mid-Autumn Festival

It started with champagne. Adam and I chopped vegetables, cut meat, with glasses of champagne next to our cutting boards: asparagus, mushrooms, spring onions, chicken, and quail eggs. Greg stood behind us at the stove, a wok cooking “Cola Chicken,” some recipe he had brought back from China. Luke started the fire in the pit outside.

I didn’t even get drunk that night but the moon was so beautiful, what little we saw of it, above the building next door, through the leaves of the tree. 

And it was so orange and round, so close, it seemed like we could just walk up to it. Climb a ladder onto the roof to get closer.

Chang’e found herself floating up to the moon, leaving her husband Houyi behind.

Greg told us the story of the moon goddess who found herself immortal but lonely on the moon with just a jade rabbit for company. Though he lives in Beijing now, Greg and I had gone to high school together. Birmingham, Portland, Beijing. The moon was round, the eighth full moon of the Chinese calendar and we were celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival.

Lee and her boyfriend were there, too: another friend from high school and her boyfriend, a man who had grown up in Birmingham with us but whom I had never known. 

Bench by bench we sat around the fire, orange silhouetted against we only knew was around us: plants and spiders and crickets and racoons watching us, ready to invade after we retired to the house. Greg and Ryan. Misti and Allison. I kissed Adam. Daniella and Ryan came out. Luke and Alisa helped make dinner. They had all just arrived back from a camping trip, just in time for the festival. Daniella’s friends from Vancouver were visiting.

Chang’e and her jade rabbit.

Adam’s roommates groaned when I told them I had bought moon cakes. I’m not sure anyone really loved the moons cakes. Except maybe me. Like a Fig Newton filled with lotus paste or red bean paste or date paste, they’re solid and sweet, brick-like. I don’t even mind the egg yolk baked into the middle.

And they look so perfect in their red packages, not sealed because they last forever, the tops of each cake decorated with the art nouveau impressions of Chinese characters and design.

I bought a string of paper lanterns set on a line of Christmas lights for six dollars at the Japanese market going out of business.

Greg had suggested we celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. Adam and his roommates remembered celebrating in China. The rest of us were experiencing it for the first time, here in Portland, by a string of cheap lights and a fire with moon cakes and the Chinese barbeque Adam was busy seasoning. It was Sunday and there was plenty of wine.

No comments: