Life in Quarantine

Since it’s been six weeks now, I thought I’d start sharing what I’ve been doing to fill my time in quarantine. This is not my ideal list of tasks by any means, but rarely does life work in ideals.

My typical day includes working eight hours from home as I text my high school students and make sure that they’re on track to graduate or get into college. At lunch, I spend some time with my college friends, either practicing my Cantonese or Japanese with them (depending on which friend group’s Zoom call I join).

The new game Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become popular among many of my friends, but since I don’t have a Nintendo Switch (which apparently costs $450 now???), I spend weekends playing Harvest Moon DS, an old video game from my middle school days. The games are similar in that they are meant to be relaxing games highlighting a virtual life in which we farm, fish, cook, tend to animals, and befriend neighbors. I suppose I could write extensively about how this suggests the presence of underlying desires to escape from our current fast-paced, socially-isolated reality (because really, who talks to their neighbors anymore?).

Before all of this virtual farming though, I had begun thinking of what I wanted to do to the backyard since I plan on being in Portland for at least another year. I begun by simply starting a compost pile, since there wouldn’t be much use planting seeds in inhospitable dirt. Late in the afternoons, I pulled weeds and rocks out of the ground, loosened the soil, and thought carefully about what I would plant in each section of the yard.

I decided that I would start with the preexisting raised bed. Our yard is large, and since neither of my parents are open to tending it after I leave, I would want something that could quietly die and I wouldn’t feel too bad about. Otherwise, I ‘d go absolutely unrestrained with planting maple, bamboo, persimmon, chrysanthemum, and camellia in the yard.

I never got a chance to actually decide what to plant though, because I went out one day to see a strange, unfamiliar leaf poking out of the ground. There was a piece of shell still attached, and I recognized it as the pumpkin seeds I had casually tossed out just a week or two prior. Nature had decided. I will be growing kabocha pumpkins in my raised bed.

While I was aware of what I was doing when I dropped those seeds onto the ground, I hadn’t expected them to germinate so quickly. In any case, now this gives me a bit more encouragement in gardening, and I hope to provide updates as they continue to grow!

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