Chapter 14: So The Nepenthe Flower From Legends Is Just Yellow Cauliflower?
In the morning, Yi Xin was woken up by his alarm clock. There was a public lecture this morning, hence, he had to arrive an hour early to prepare a few slides. Despite that he was up all night, he had to get up.
Zheng Tan and Yi Xin left the house at the same time.
Yi Xin ran to the East Campus Cafeteria and bought two orders of Xiaolongbao; he paused, and after thinking for a bit, bought two cups of soy milk. He brought them to the grove by the East Residential Quad, where Zheng Tan was currently sitting on top of a stone table waiting.
Yi Xin took a bag of Xiaolongbao and a cup of soy milk and placed it on the table. He didn’t know whether a cat would be able to drink soy milk, but, when he was on the phone with Boss Jiao, Boss Jiao said their family cat had a rather strong stomach and was unlike other cats. Yi Xin thought just eating steamed buns by itself could possibly cause it to choke, so he bought an extra cup of soy milk.
When he inserted a straw into the disposable cup that was holding the soy milk, Yi Xin suddenly realized something… the cat probably couldn’t use the straw.
While Yi Xin fretted, Zheng Tan had already started eating a steamed bun. He pushed away Yi Xin’s hand, and bit on a straw and started sucking. Seeing Yi Xin’s blank stare, if he wasn’t short on time, and in a rush to catch the lecture, he would have definitely squatted there to research how Boss Jiao’s cat was able to use a straw. With a mouth that was leaky on two ends, how could it use one so well?
Zheng Tan was in no mood to pay any attention to Yi Xin’s thoughts. He was presently hungry, and so, ate as quickly as he could. After eating, he would then hang around for a while before he’d need to go for a run. If he didn’t eat, he definitely wouldn’t have any energy to run.
From a bag of eight little steamed buns, by the time Zheng Tan ate six, Yellowy and Detective had run over. The remaining two he split between them. As for Chubs, even if he came, that guy was the same as Zheng Tan, and pretty much didn’t eat other people’s leftovers.
Like usual, when Yellowy came over, he first made two meows to express that he was already here and to get the others who hadn’t arrived to come faster. After he meowed, he started scratch some trees to grind down his claws.
Zheng Tan tossed the plastic bag that held the steamed buns and the soy milk cup into a trash can beside him. He walked two circles around the stone table to aid with digestion for a bit.
By the time Chubs slowly lumbered over, Yellowy had already started scratching the third tree.
When Zheng Tan felt it was enough, he meowed, and walked out of the grove. Yellowy was done scratching and eagerly tagged along. After running two steps, he chewed a bit on the grass beside him.
Originally, Zheng Tan was thinking if he didn’t run into Wei Leng, he’d go running by himself. It was just running, right? Furthermore, there were three cats here, so later he could ask them to all run together.
Seeing Wei Leng, this time it was Yellowy who had the biggest reaction. This guy arched his back and jumped like a flea, his fur stuck up explosively, and ears stuck out like airplane wings. In comparison, Chubs was much calmer than last time and just a bit vigilant. He wasn’t as directly hostile as he was last time.
Wei Leng relaxed his grip and dropped to the ground, looked at the four cats, and focused his gaze on Chubs and Zheng Tan. He didn’t say much, and turned around and began walking out of the lawn. “We’ll start running then. Just a jog. At Chu Hua University, Isn’t there a trail around the entire campus? We’ll first do one loop and then talk.”
Zheng Tan: “……” A whole loop–
Chu Hua University’s campus was very large. Since Zheng Tan came here, he essentially stayed mostly around East Campus. Apart from this, he’s been to pick up Jiao Yuan and Gu Youzi from school, the life sciences department, Professor Lan’s little garden, as well as other areas. At the University, there were actually many places that Zheng Tan hadn’t been to yet.
Looping around the school wasn’t bad. He must familiarize himself with the area anyhow.
Zheng Tan ran about twenty meters and turned around to look. Chubs was sitting in his original place and yawning with his eyes closed. Yellowy had run into the bushes, squatting to poop; and Detective was looking at a sparrow on a branch and licking his lips.
Damn, they’re all useless. I might as well go running by myself from now on!
Wei Leng didn’t wait for Zheng Tan and maintained the same running speed, which wasn’t that fast. Zheng Tan followed tightly behind him.
In the morning, students either rode bikes or walked from places like the cafeteria, dorms, and plaza towards the school building. By the peach grove, there were students from clubs like Chinese opera and chorus practicing.
This time of the year, the university’s osmanthus flowers had already bloomed for a while, and its scent wasn’t as strong as earlier. They would probably wither soon.
When they passed the plaza, Zheng Tan saw Mrs. Di. The old lady was currently with her elderly friends swaying captivating red feather fans in their hands, doing a fan dance. It looked as if they were about to finish. Normally, though, they finished half an hour before classes started in order to not disturb the students on their way to class.
Mrs. Di was in the middle of flicking her fan, and as she turned around in a circle, she happened to see Zheng Tan in the distance who was panting with his mouth wide open, running. She almost dropped the fan she was flicking. Mrs. Di has been doing fan dances at the plaza for a long time, and she had never seen Zheng Tan here. She couldn’t imagine why Zheng Tan would run this far out. After all, this was close to the education quad, and normally speaking, it was rare to see cats during this time of day.
Zheng Tan didn’t have the energy to pay attention to the old lady’s expression. Even though he was just jogging, after running all the way here, he was terribly exhausted. He had never run like this in the past, and suddenly running like this, it was no surprise he felt bad. The previous section of road wasn’t bad, and Zheng Tan had the energy to pay attention to the scenery around him, but as this went on, he gradually had to strain himself.
Wei Leng slowed down his pace. Zheng Tan didn’t stop, continuing to follow and run.
He said he would train. In order to become stronger, to go to even further places, he had to press on.
This was for the sake of his life!
After finishing one loop, Zheng Tan rolled on the lawn to rest. He knew there was an outdoors water fountain over there on the Campus Lawn, so he decided to drink before anything else.
Wei Leng simply didn’t stop. After finishing his chin ups, he took Zheng Tan for a loop like it was nothing. When he arrived back at the public exercise equipment, he continued to do chin ups.
Zheng Tan stood next to the water fountain resting, and drank some water. He tilted his head and noticed that bástãrd Wei Leng started running again, even faster than before.
Zheng Tan took a few deep breaths and increased his stride to keep the pace. However, the difference in their speed was too much, and it didn’t take long before he lost sight of Wei Leng. Zheng Tan wasn’t prepared to keep running, and so he took a turn at a side road to head towards Professor Lan’s little garden.
Like usual, Zheng Tan chose to go directly over the wall since there was still quite some distance from the main gate of the flower garden. He was too lazy to go around. After running that much, his feet were a little sore, and he almost had trouble jumping up.
Even though he said it was a little garden, it actually wasn’t small at all. Inside, there were several transparent greenhouses that were planted full with vegetation. There wasn’t that much room in the remaining space either.
After jumping onto the wall, Zheng Tan was in no rush to jump down, and he walked along the wall. When he got close to one of the greenhouses, he jumped onto the greenhouse, making a “thump” sound.
Professor Lan, who was presently inside busying himself with a trowel, looked up and angrily said, “Can you jump from some other place? If you jump a few more times, I’ll have to repair the greenhouse early!”
Zheng Tan paid no attention to him and walked to a side of the greenhouse. There were several wooden crates piled up there, conveniently in the shape of stairs, and Zheng Tan jumped down one by one.
Zheng Tan tilted his head and looked inside the greenhouse. Because it was transparent, he could see rather clearly.
They’re yellow ones too!
Zheng Tan had never seen lilies that were yellow in the past. He had seen white ones though. The flowers that he saw inside were fairly similar to the lilies that he used to buy to pick up girls.
What was Professor Lan growing all these yellow lilies for? White ones would sell better, right?
Zheng Tan doubtfully walked inside. At the entrance of the greenhouse, there was a wooden crate packed with some brown things, but Zheng Tan didn’t pay that much attention. He was presently fixated on the yellow flowers that were inside.
Professor Lan who was busy gardening with a trowel turned around and looked, and called out: “Be careful, don’t mess up those yellow cauliflower!”
So they weren’t lilies?
Zheng Tan flicked his ears. Towards these things, he was a total idiot. Even if he examined it from up close, he wouldn’t be able to tell a difference. Frankly, he couldn’t remember what lilies looked like anyways, and he only felt it looked somewhat similar to the kind in his memories.
As Zheng Tan thought, some people arrived in the little garden.
It was a few students who had come for samples.
Like other people, in front of Professor Lan, these students appeared very cautious.
“Professor Lan, we scheduled an appointment with you over the phone earlier about the research of an antioxidant-type flavonoid, and we’re here to collect samples.”
Professor Lan didn’t stand up, and he lifted a finger to point at a corner of the greenhouse. “Over there, at the places where I’ve marked, you can harvest. Don’t touch anything outside the markings.”
“Ah, alright alright, we’ll remember and we’ll be careful,” a student promptly nodded and spoke.
A few people cautiously arrived at the corner that Professor Lan pointed out. One student who looked like he hadn’t been in school for long whispered, “So these are nepenthe flowers. Why do they look like lilies?”
The hands of the other students shook, and even though they hadn’t said anything, sure enough, they heard Professor Lan’s voice from over there.
“Phylum Angiosperm, clade Monocotyledon, order Liliales, suborder Liliales, family Liliaceae, genus Hemerocallis fulva, also known as yellow cauliflower. Hasn’t your teacher taught you this? Why would it be strange that it looks similar?”
Professor Lan’s voice was very flat, but it could make people clearly feel he was angry.
The students were silenced, and no one else dared to casually say anything since they were afraid of being rebuked for accidentally making a mistake. After the hurried up to finish harvesting the plants, they deferentially bid farewell and left.
Zheng Tan sat on the side, and on inside he felt rueful from the student’s words from earlier. So the nepenthe flower from the legends is just yellow cauliflower? The former sounded so trendy and stylish, and in comparison “yellow cauliflower” sounds like a name from a country bumpkin. Zheng Tan had never linked these two words together before.
After those students left, Professor Lan stood up and massaged his waist, and walked out of the greenhouse. As he walked out, he picked up the wooden crate by the entrance.
“The fat and vitamin C content in fresh yellow cauliflower is greater than that in dry cauliflower, but it’s protein and other trace element content is lower than that in dry cauliflower, so I still prefer eating the dried ones. At my old place, there was a lot of this stuff, but in the city, it’s hard to find. Ash, I’m telling you…”
Blah blah blah blah.
These retired professors had never fixed their bad habit of liking to lecture others. Even though he was talking to a cat that couldn’t understand anything, he could still talk for a long time. As soon as Zheng Tan heard, “I’m telling you”, he knew that Professor Lan was the same as Papa Jiao. They were entering teaching mode.
Zheng Tan played around at Professor Lan’s little garden, and left around lunchtime.
While the sun was still shining brightly, when Zheng Tan returned to the Eastern Residence, he just happened to see Yellowy lying on the grass, halfway in the shade and halfway in the sun. What amazed Zheng Tan was that there was another creature lying beside Yellowy. Purring, Yellowy hugged it and licked its fur. That rascal wasn’t purring.
The heck? Since when did that bástãrd with a 囧 face that was being hugged by that fool Yellowy come to East Campus?! How come he had never seen it before?
Before Zheng Tan could finish being astonished, another one giddily ran up from not far away.
Zheng Tan: “……”
Who the hell were these bástãrds that had lopsided faces like they had been punched by someone?
忘忧草 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemerocallis_fulva But culturally speaking it’s a flower that’s supposed to be able to make you forget things. Think of the flower from the lotus land myth, that kind of thing.
黄花菜 according to wikipedia is “daylily”. However, for the narrative of this chapter, it’s important to emphasize that 黄花菜 is a vegetable in Chinese cooking, therefore I decided not to translate it according to the official English name. The Chinese name for the flower doesn’t sound like a flower at all. In fact, it is literally “Yellow Cauliflower” or “Yellow Flower Vegetable”. Despite it’s name, it’s nothing like a cauliflower.
Cats are often lactose intolerant, so they can’t drink normal milk
In China, they’re often very brightly colored and look like playgrounds. It’s usually old people who go to them like 5-6am in the morning to exercise. The term is 早操.