Layered between the examination of my morning oatmeal is this story, Don't Read While You Eat, in many parts. Originally exposed to the eyes of others as part of the Santa Cruz Waldorf School newsletter, The Glimpse, under the heading of School Store Notes, it was at that time called the Peccary Chronicles. The reason for that is another story. The reason for the current title is the following;The Chinese recommend that one does not read and eat at the same time because it is the same Qi, the Spleen Qi, that helps with both reading and digestion. One just shouldn't spread the Spleen too thin...........
Huang Jing Liao was the first boy and the last child to be born to the branch of the Huang family who lived on the farm by the mountains. With five sisters the boy was never wanting for care. Even the youngest sister, who was only two years his senior, was always happy to give up her toys for his amusement. His nappies were always clean, stomach always full and each cry attended to almost before it came out of his mouth. His sisters promised to be more beautiful than lotuses, cleverer than rabbits and as good natured as a bowl of fresh steamed rice at the end of a long day; but they were girls and girls meant trouble and expense.
Father and Mother Huang were sure that if their girls did not run off to marry bandit princes, the parents would have to sell their small farm to provide dowries.
"Don't worry, honorable and fretful parents, we promise we will never leave you and the farm when you are too old to plant the rice and tend the chickens"
Although these words were spoken from the heart, Mother and Father Huang knew that one day each of their daughters in turn would betray the girlhood promise. A scent, a look, a certain light, a tone of voice, the silhouette of a shoulder against a stonewall; any of these things could turn a girl's heart into a woman's.
At the moment of his birth little Jing Liao changed the fate of his family. A boy who would grown up to be a man could also grow up to be a government official. The job of government official in those days was probably the most stable and lucrative career a person of ordinary heritage could expect. As the yelling infant was laid on her breast to suck Mother Huang thanked the gods for now her daughters could have decent dowries and she and her husband could stay on their farm with it's mountain views, fat black chickens and honeysuckle scented breezes until their deaths in venerable old age.