It’s a very fat bamboo rat! At this moment, it’s struggling in Big Orange’s mouth, making Su Mu’s skin crawl with goosebumps.
Huayuan Village is backed by mountains, rich in wild game resources. Wild chickens, rabbits, and other animals are quite common. Especially in recent years, the villagers’ lives have improved, and very few of them go hunting in the mountains, leading to an overabundance of wild animals.
“Big Orange, quickly throw it away!” To others, this might be seen as a delicious delicacy, but Su Mu can’t accept it. She has read the interstellar history archives and knows how powerful the pathogens in wild animals can be. It’s not just a personal matter to eat game; in severe cases, it might threaten the fate of a nation.
Moreover, the bamboo rat is too ugly. To be honest, she’s quite obsessed with appearances.
Big Orange tilted his head, seemingly pondering what his owner had said. After a while, he came to Su Mu and laid down the nearly lifeless bamboo rat in front of her, even nudging it towards her with his paw.
Su Mu took a few steps back in distress.
Seeing this, Su Chen couldn’t help but tease, “Little sister, Big Orange is giving you a gift. Why not accept it?”
Wei Liu was trying to hold back his laughter, his shoulders shaking slightly. He didn’t dare to laugh too openly because he needed Su Mu’s help. If he offended her and she decided to stop helping him, he would be the one crying.
“Go away! I don’t want it.” Su Mu ran away without looking back. If she can’t face it, she can at least avoid it, right?
But what’s more, Big Orange thought that his owner was just being shy about accepting his gift. So, picking up the bamboo rat, he jumped up and chased after her!
Back in the bamboo grove, the two men looked flustered. Moments later, bursts of laughter echoed in the area.
Wei Liu had never been so unrestrained in front of his subordinates. He laughed so hard he doubled over, pointing in the direction where Su Mu and Big Orange had disappeared, panting, “Su Chen, is your sister alright? Should we help?”
Su Chen wiped away tears from laughing and waved off his concern, “She’s fine. She can handle it.” He laughed so hard his cheeks hurt.
Elsewhere, Su Mu, whom her brother believed could “handle it”, ran for a while thinking she had lost Big Orange. But suddenly, a rustling sound from behind gave her a bad feeling. Catching a glimpse of a faint orange hue, she shouted, “Mom! Help!” and ran faster.
At home, Father Su was about to butcher a chicken when he was startled by her screams. Leaving his task, he quickly rushed out asking, “What happened?”
Su Mu, seeking refuge behind her father, pointed at the pursuing Big Orange and exclaimed, “Big Orange is chasing me!”
Father Su laughed upon seeing the bamboo rat in Big Orange’s mouth, “Mu Mu is still so afraid of rats.”
Their mother chided, “Stop teasing her, you know she can’t stand rats.”
A passing villager, returning from work, curiously asked, “Why are all of you standing outside?”
Father Su, pointing to the bamboo rat in Big Orange’s mouth, laughed, “Our pet Big Orange caught a bamboo rat and scared Mu Mu.”
“That bamboo rat is quite the catch this season!” The villager’s eyes lit up with delight.
“If you like it, take it home.” Father Su offered, recalling times when bamboo rats were considered a delicacy during tough times. But after Su Mu went to school, she advised against consuming such foods due to health concerns.
The villager happily accepted and mentioned bringing some ripe plums in return later.
Big Orange seemed unhappy that his gift was taken. Su Mu comforted him, “I’ll give you some chicken bones later. Don’t be upset.”
Seemingly understanding her words, Big Orange wagged his tail happily.
As the sun’s last rays disappeared, darkness fell, and the lights in the yard turned on.
Su Mu was busy in the kitchen helping her mother prepare dishes: cutting tofu into small cubes, peeling fresh bamboo shoots, and gathering fresh herbs and spices from the garden. The chicken stew, with the added aroma of mushrooms and other herbal ingredients, was already boiling, releasing a delicious fragrance.
After her tasks, Su Mu stepped out of the kitchen. The two who had gone to dig bamboo shoots returned with a good haul.
“This bamboo shoot is good.” Even though he sweated from digging up the bamboo shoot, Wei Liu looked at his achievement with great satisfaction. He took a photo and sent it to a group chat with his childhood friends.
“Fresh bamboo shoots, dug up by myself.” He didn’t need to flaunt how proud he was, because they all understood.
It was mealtime, and his post attracted a lot of attention.
“Xiao Liu, have you gone to the countryside? You still have relatives in the countryside?” It was a valid question because most of them had moved to the city generations ago and hardly had any relatives in the countryside.
“This bamboo shoot looks of good quality, Xiao Liu. Do you have more? Can you bring some back?”
“What’s up? Brother He, did Gu Shi have another episode?” He Fu is Gu Shi’s nutritionist. Whenever he inquired about ingredients, it indicated that Gu Shi might not be doing well.
He Fu didn’t want to share too much with them. Even though they had been close friends since childhood, he now had professional standards to uphold as a nutritionist.
He simply messaged Wei Liu privately, “How are the ingredients there? If they’re good, bring some for me.”
Wei Liu, enjoying the evening breeze and lounging comfortably in her chair, replied, “It’s excellent, even better than the holiday resort we stayed at before. As for the quality of the ingredients, I’ll let you know after I’ve tasted them. Don’t worry.”
It was a habit among the childhood friends to seek out high-quality ingredients wherever they went.
Dinner was served in the yard. The table was laden with dishes. Countryside dishes might not be aesthetically plated, but the taste was genuinely delightful.
Father Su, as the head of the family, cheerfully told Wei Liu, “Mr. Wei, help yourself to any dish. Make yourself at home.” Even though he wasn’t sure why his son’s boss would visit suddenly, he believed in giving him a warm welcome.
“Uncle, Su Chen and I are of the same age. Just call me Xiao Wei.”
“Alright, alright. Eat up before the dishes get cold.”
Su Mu was impatient with the pleasantries. Once her father began eating, she eyed the shiny river snail, imagining its delicious taste.
Before she could pick it up, Mother Su stopped her, filled a small bowl with chicken soup, and said, “Drink the soup first to warm your stomach.”
The chicken soup was good. Su Mu drank as suggested. It had been simmered for hours, combined with several medicinal herbs, and presented a bright golden color. To prevent it from being too greasy, Mother Su had skimmed off the excess fat. The soup tasted primarily of its fresh ingredients, with a hint of mushroom that was soaked with its flavors. Apart from the taste of freshness, there was also the taste of freshness.
Wei Liu’s eyes lit up. With his refined palate, he could tell that the soup was minimally seasoned, using only salt. The ingredients for this soup weren’t expensive or rare, yet its taste surpassed those from upscale private kitchens.
He eagerly sampled the other dishes: spicy stir-fried river snails, bamboo shoot tofu mussel soup that was mildly sweet, sour fish that was tender and smooth, and a cold salad that seemed to encapsulate the taste of spring.
He wanted these ingredients!
Su Chen hadn’t tasted his mother’s cooking for a long time. Neither he nor his wife were particularly skilled at cooking, so they often relied on takeouts. Now, he was enjoying the meal so much that he didn’t even look up.
After Su Mu had eaten nearly half a bowl of rice under her mother’s watchful eye, she was finally allowed to enjoy the snails. She let herself go, eating them one by one, and in no time, there was a small mountain of empty snail shells in front of her.
Mother Su felt both relieved and exasperated. How could her daughter, a young lady, eat like that in front of guests? How will she find a husband this way?
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meal, not leaving even a drop of soup behind.
After dinner, everyone sat under the grapevine arbor and chatted. To Su Chen’s surprise, his father and Wei Liu found common ground and had a delightful conversation. However, Su Chen soon lost his smile.
His mother had started pressuring him to have children.
Though he wasn’t quite yet forty and his wife was three years younger, they indeed needed to start planning.
“Mom, I have it all figured out,” Su Chen responded.
His mother gave him a stern look, “You’ve been saying that for years, and I still don’t see any grandchildren.”
Su Mu laughed at the situation, hoping to see her niece or nephew soon. But before she knew it, the pressure was shifted to her.
Her mother tapped her on the head, “What are you laughing at? At least your brother got married. What about you?”
Caught off guard and unable to produce a boyfriend on the spot, Su Mu playfully deflected.
As the night deepened, everyone went to bed.
After taking a bath, Su Mu’s phone rang. She guessed it was Chen Guo returning her call. She flopped onto her soft bed and picked up the phone. Sure enough.
Chen Guo had made a video call. Once connected, the two burst into laughter.
“Guo Guo, why do you look like a panda?” asked Su Mu.
“Mu Mu, did you use another skincare product without telling me?” joked Chen Guo.
After some laughter, Chen Guo asked, “Mu Mu, it’s the weekend tomorrow, want to hang out?” She had been working at a renowned law firm for less than half a year, always learning from her mentor, and rarely had time to rest.
But Su Mu hesitated, “Guo Guo, I’ve gone back to my hometown.”
“Why did you go back?” Chen Guo was alarmed. Knowing her friend’s mild nature, she wouldn’t leave her job unless it was necessary. “Did Li Yan bully you?”
Su Mu quickly shook her head, “No, it was my decision.”
“So, what are you going to do back home? With your tiny arms and legs, you can’t possibly farm?”
Lying down, Su Mu felt touched by her friend’s concern but couldn’t reveal her special abilities. She softly replied, “I’m thinking of growing vegetables and flowers to sell. I’ve already scouted a location. By the way, Guo Guo, can you draft a land lease contract for me?”
Seeing her friend’s determination, Chen Guo sighed, “Sure, no problem! But when can I taste the veggies you grow?”
“Just wait and see!”
The two, having not seen each other for a long time, chatted for hours.
The next day, when Su Mu woke up, the drafted contract was already waiting in her phone.
She sighed, realizing Chen Guo had stayed up late again to help her.
Feeling motivated, Su Mu was determined to let her friend taste her homegrown vegetables soon!