Embracing the Sea Wind in Cieding／海風之地─茄萣區
Embracing the Sea Wind in Cieding
◎Written by Lin Che-li ◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photo by Guo An-bi
Growing up in Kaohsiung's Cieding District is deeply embedded in my memory.
Before I went to kindergarten, I had no playmates, because my parents were busy with work and my older siblings concentrated on their elementary school homework. However, a couple who lived opposite my parents' workplace, and ran a factory, adored me. I often played in their factory, and by the time they were finishing work, if my parents were busy, they would take me home, sitting me between them on their scooter. Many memories from Cieding have been imprinted on me, such as being a bridesmaid and getting a perm for the very first time.
I have deeply ingrained memories of several days at a blue, one-story nursery school on Cieding's coastline. The teachers took the young pupils to the levee to look at the sea. The azure ocean seemed far away. Despite wearing a cap and something to protect my face, as I stood on the levee, the winter wind still felt harsh.
As the fierce wind blew in my face, the icy prickling feeling, along with the unique saltiness, gave me a hint of the ocean which has somehow shaped my initial impressions of the sea.
When I grew up, I realized this saltiness is also present in fresh seafood.
In Cieding throughout the mullet season, a common sight is that of mullet egg sacs laid out in courtyards to dry under the sun. After the mullet roes have soaked up enough sunshine and sea wind, the finished product emerges in the form of golden ovals. These dried mullet roes are slightly translucent. This delicacy has a silky yet slightly glutinous texture, and its saltiness carries the taste of ocean. The reliable mullet season is regarded as a gift from the ocean.
My father used to take us to Singda Port Fish Market, where he would point out different kinds of seafood, and teach us how to pick the freshest seafood. I ate many kinds of seafood, but it was the experience of eating octopus which left the deepest impression. A whole octopus is placed in boiling water, then allowed to cool before slicing. Adults dip morsels in a seafood sauce, whereas children prefer mayonnaise.
Last year, my family dined out at a restaurant near Singda Port Fish Market. Afterward, we strolled leisurely along a nearby levee. After years of wandering far from home, I would not be able to enjoy a meal without the company of my family. The ocean breeze's familiar saltiness brought back memories of my childhood in Cieding District. I was enveloped by a sudden upsurge of reminiscences of the simple yet good life I had enjoyed there.
I had been commuting between Kaohsiung and Tainan for a while. Once, thanks to the red lanterns hanging outside, I had discovered a store selling handmade rolls baked in a clay oven. The rolls' aroma filled the air, and the facade displayed thin-crusted rolls of various flavors. A warm roll just out of the oven is guaranteed to be delicious.
Some friends went to Cieding District this winter. They harbored migrating birds, guarding the habitat. Thanks to their efforts, Black-faced Spoonbills are able to migrate to this temporary habitat every year. I look forward to seeing migrating waterbirds set foot in Cieding's wetlands, so I shall make a journey back to Cieding each winter.
Despite having moved away from Cieding, my ties to the goddess Mazu at Jinluan Temple do not seem to weaken. I still make occasional visits to the Kuo Chang-si Arts Sword Museum in order to scrutinize the Green Destiny Sword, made famous by the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Along the coast, I encounter familiar sea winds; this experience and the sense of saltiness reminds me that this is home.
茄萣區隔著二仁溪與台南市灣裡左右相望。The Erren River divides Kaohsiung's Cieding District from Wanli in Tainan City's South District.