The winters were severe, the areas with heavy snowfalls where even going outside was a hard task.
But after that, during spring, the beautiful cherry trees bloomed, giving hope to the hearts of people. Even while working hard on the farm as usual, we made preparations for the summer festival.
And after enjoying the short summer days from the depths of the heart, it finally came the busiest season. Everyone came together and worked hard harvesting rice and fruits. The harvest work was something that mobilized everyone, both children and adults. And after the harvest festival, came the preparations for the severe winter.
It was an unchanging life, repeating year after year. But that scene of climate and the four seasons was what gave people hope.
『Following a severe season, the flowers of hope bloom without fail』
And so, I narrated to the children my thoughts on nature.
“The story ends here. It will soon become dark. Be careful and return home.”
Since the sun had started to sink since a while ago, I ended my story and told everyone to go back.
“Ehhh… I want to hear more! ”
“Please tell me more about the cherry blossoms blooming in spring! ”
“Hey, guys! Don’t bother our guest! ”
“Yeah… that’s true. See ya tomorrow…”
After being scolded by the leader-like boy, the children who still wanted to hear more stories returned each to their homes. They really wanted to hear more about me. However, they properly put up with it and they all went back without objecting.
I quietly saw them off as their lonely figures went away.
“Well then, let’s have dinner…”
It was the end of the day, and night should fall any moment now, so it was time for dinner.
In situations like this, where fuel was a valuable resource, it was common to dine before the sun set and go to bed when it got dark. And since I have outdoor hobbies such as camping and exploring, my body clocks naturally adjusted to do so when I was in the wilderness.
“A meal, huh…”
I’ve been transported to a strange, different world. But at least for the moment, I have secured some food.
My large backpack had also a stock of food in case of an emergency. In addition, I had the meat of the already bled Big Rabbit which we hunted inside the forest, stored in this room. Other than that, I also had the wild vegetables I collected inside the forest on our way here, also some mushrooms and a few herbs.
The raw meat in particular needed to be consumed with top priority. I had my own cooking utensils, so I could probably cook it with some herbs.
“Proof of being welcomed, huh? These nuts…”
Yet, I turned my gaze to the tree nuts in my hand.
A fruit very similar to a walnut, given to me by the children earlier. Something dear to them, a gift given to me even if they had to reduce their own share.
(Little kids, huh…?)
I was not very good at dealing with little kids.
Or speaking more accurately, children were the ones that tended not to like me.
This was something that I once experienced back in Japan. The kindergarten and elementary children who lived in my neighborhood turned tails and ran frightened whenever I tried to smile at them. Even though I really was trying my best to smile at them.
But I guess the more you try, the more it hurts when you fail. Eventually, it went to a point where the children burst into tear when they ran into me.
Having experienced that, I could say for sure that I was not good at dealing with children. I couldn’t say for sure, but maybe the sadness of continuously being rejected might have engraved itself in my heart as a trauma.
“But the village’s children were smiling.”
At a glance I could tell that Urd village was by no means rich. A difficult situation of continuous misery, where even the next day’s meals weren’t a sure thing. But as I mentioned, the children just now spoke to me with a big smile.
They heard the story of my hometown, which wasn’t by any extent out of the ordinary, as if it was a grand heroic tale. And they wanted to keep listening to more stories, since they knew that I would leave the village tomorrow.
I couldn’t help but remember that smile, the first time I had seen children smiling at me, neither could I forget the regretful expression on their faces when they went back.
“These types of beds… This kind of food…”
While muttering I resolved myself.
I took the nuts I had in my hand and tossed them into my mouth. While remembering the smiles of the children, I chew it many times.
“Just this much isn’t remotely enough to feel sated…”
The tree nuts disappeared in no time. Even if you were to swallow with plenty of saliva, you wouldn’t feel full at all.
However, this appeared to be currently the main diet in the village.
“I guess I should go to sleep soon. Tomorrow will be a busy morning.”
Tonight’s dinner time was over.
I didn’t touch the preserved food, nor the Big Rabbit’s meat; I decided to only eat the tree nuts and lied down on the floor.
“So, this is ‘A meal and a night’s lodging’, huh…?”
My mutter got lost inside this house.
This was something that my parents taught me, something that must never be forgotten.
If I were to find myself in trouble, those who were kind enough to offer me a meal and a night’s lodging must be repaid, even if I have to spend my whole life, I have to repay the favor. I really had such old-fashioned parents.
“Seriously, I guess I’m getting soft too…”
Still, I never broke any rule taught to me by my parents.
While bitterly laughing, I fell deep into sleep.