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Written on: July 4, 2019

My homestay mother sits me down in a chair next to a small wooden table that features an orange colander filled with walnuts and a iron mallet next to it. As we approach the table, a cat jumps off of the chair and scampers away. In the distance there are sounds of people conversing in the Naxi dialect, almost drowned out by my homestay family’s dog barking, the roosters cooing, birds chirping n the trees, and my homestay family’s cow’s loud breaths. As a weak breeze blows through the village, bringing with it the smell of firewood burning, my homestay mother’s cooking, and the welcomed fresh air coming from the mountain tops. My homestay mother gives me a faint smile as I raise the mallet. Crack! The shell of the walnut becomes flakes between my fingers and bits fall to the ground. I look up to see my homestay father walking out to feed his chickens, marveling at the countless birds pouring from the coop. Crack! Another walnut breaks under the rusted iron hammer. As I look up from picking up the crumbs I see that the chickens have been returned to their coop and a stray rooster or two from their other coop roaming the gardens. I turn my gaze to see my homestay father attempting to return their cow to its stable. Grabbing a rope, he leads the cow into a stable hidden behind a curtain of darkness. The breeze shifts to bring cool humid air that smells of the earth and the trees. Crack! another walnut dissolves at my fingertips from the force of the mallet in my hand. As I watch the ominous blue-gray clouds swirl above my homestay mother brings me a small box of Virginia Beach saltwater taffy candies and a bag of Chinese candies. I reply with by saying 谢谢,我最喜欢! I take a light purple taffy from the box. As I chew the candy I wonder how they ended up in her home, deciding it must have ben a previous student. The candy tastes of black licorice, and I cringe from the bitter flavour, that somehow intensifies with every chew, but nonetheless I savour it because it brings me back to my childhood. A black kitten stares at me with wide yellow eyes as I open an apple flavoured lolly pop from the bag. The candy’s vibrant red colour looks almost poisonous but I eat it anyways. To my appreciation it tastes like any apple candy one could find back at home, and I could not have welcomed it more. As I finish my lollypop I find this story coming to an end, for I have not much left to do than stare at rooftops and wonder.