One Angeleno’s Coronavirus Pandemic Diary: Day 15 – Mask Vendors and Gardening
Today is the fifth entry in a series of occasional journal-type posts about what’s happening regarding coronavirus in one SBLA editor’s neck of the woods.
My family is sheltering at home, going out for daily walks and occasionally for bike rides – of course diligently practicing safe isolation. I am grateful that my daughter doesn’t have a fever or a cough – though it’s still urgent to continue isolating ourselves. We’re doing a lot of watching videos, reading books, cooking, FaceTime-ing – like I expect a lot of families are.
I bicycled around my Koreatown neighborhood yesterday. I was a little surprised at – and frankly a little scared by – the levels of car, foot, and bike traffic that has persisted. Anecdotally, streets in my area (one of the most population-dense neighborhoods in Southern California) appear significantly more populated than the photos we’ve been seeing of empty streets in other cities. I can’t tell what is permissible essential activity and what isn’t. Anyway I certainly have a lot more resources and choices than most of my neighbors, many of whom are Latinx and Asian immigrants. The folks in L.A.’s informal economies are hit hard by sharp declines in restaurant business and many other sectors – and these neighbors are the people sure to be left out stimulus payments to be distributed to American citizens.
But they are resilient and ready to take advantage of new opportunities. I observed three different street vendors hawking protective face masks for $5 each. Each of them carried a mannekin head showing off the mask.
Given the rapidly changing present and overwhelming thoughts of the future, one thing that has given me some solace is tending to my garden. I’ve tended a couple of small garden plots for decades and even blogged about it occasionally. I grow food, though I have no illusion that my gardening will ever feed my family. After a couple of vacations and some general neglect, my plots had become a bit overgrown. Yesterday, I got a chance to weed a bit and to plant some seeds.
I understand that my garden is a privilege. Many Angelenos don’t have the luxury of space to cultivate one. I am lucky to live in an ecological cooperative where we unpaved parking spaces to create the beds where I garden.
It’s perhaps overly heady, but I think that gardening connects the present to the future. Tending a garden assumes a future that we bring into being by gradually consistently deliberately caring acts done right now. Gardening builds on a trust that there will be a tomorrow, that the earth, the sun, the climate will sustain future generations as they have done past ones. I find it reassuring.
And March is a great time to get one’s Southern California garden going. (For novices, I recommend cherry tomato plants.)
Today’s recommended reading:
- As the conservative talking point has become something along the lines of “deaths are acceptable if they keep the economy healthy,” I’ve been reading some rebuttals at Streetsblog USA and the New York Times.
- Read about how South Korea aced its coronavirus response at The Nation.
Image/Video of the day:
The graph above shows the worst is still to come for the U.S. coronavirus crisis – shared on Twitter yesterday by health researcher Aaron Caroll