Redian新闻
>
Shanghai Reopening Diary: Why Don’t We Always Let the Weeds Grow

Shanghai Reopening Diary: Why Don’t We Always Let the Weeds Grow

社会

                                          

After almost two months of total lockdown, Shanghai is gradually reopening. On this page, Sixth Tone will bring you regular updates on the city as we're seeing it.

May 30, 2022

Why Don’t We Always Let the Weeds Grow?

I live in the New Jiangwan neighborhood of Yangpu District. Today, after almost two months of lockdowns and quarantines, I finally had the opportunity to step out of my residential community gate. Other neighborhoods in the city are allowing residents to make shopping trips, but where I live, the only stores open are a handful of pharmacies. Still, no one wanted to miss their chance to step back out into the wide world.

Since the end of April, we were able to go downstairs for two hours every day. Yangpu has been the most locked-down district in the city since mid-May, so we felt lucky that we were even allowed to spend time in the courtyard most days. Our compound was divided into four groups, given two hours each for exercise.

Even so, we’ve seen winter turn to spring, and spring to summer. The birds grow louder and louder, and wild grass and flowers spring up. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen children trying to catch butterflies in the tall grass.

A permit issued by the author’s residential committee. Courtesy of Feng Jing

New Jiangwan was the first neighborhood in Yangpu to be allowed on the street. Thursday, shortly after 10 p.m., the neighborhood committee sent a message to the chat group with the new rules: Residents could leave the compound once every two days, for a maximum of two hours at a time. I set a goal for myself: No matter what, I was going out the next day. The past two months have taught me never to wait on these things; opportunities like this often only come once.

At 7 a.m., I woke up and welcomed my new beginning with an at-home COVID-19 test followed by a nucleic acid test. I got my entry-exit pass with my nucleic acid test. At that moment, my emotions were all over the place. I went home to get ready, even though the passes wouldn’t take effect until 3 p.m.

First, I had to pick an outfit. I’d spent the past two months wearing pajamas, only tossing on a jacket and some pants when I went downstairs. I skipped right over my spring wardrobe. I was finally going to wear the summer clothes I’d pulled out over the past two weeks.

Then I packed my bag. During the lockdown, I’d pretty much only gone outside for COVID tests. It was enough to stuff my keys and phone into my pocket before heading downstairs. While I only had a walk ahead of me, I crammed my bag with a water bottle, an umbrella, a backup face mask, some disinfectant wipes, a shopping tote — what if I found a shop open? — and some snacks. I’d barely exercised while at home, and on the off-chance I got tired and couldn’t go on, I’d have a way to replenish my energy.

Weeds grow in a road median in Shanghai, May 2022. Courtesy of Feng Jing

My final preparation was psychological: I had to shift my mindset from listless to engaged. I slid my pass into a plastic sleeve and carefully placed it in my bag. Just looking at it lifted my spirits.

The moment I stepped outside the community gate, it was as though I could see the sun for the first time in months. As I filmed the moment with my phone, I sighed: “At last, I’m out.” The security guard at the gate jokingly asked why I would say that on a livestream, but I wasn’t livestreaming; I didn’t even plan to post the video to social media. I just wanted a record of this important moment in my life.

The world outside was at once strange and familiar. All the shops were fenced off. I checked the dates on the fences and saw they were put up in May. The stores had been closed a long time by that point, so I’m not sure what the point of the fences was.

I left my community with a new friend from lockdown. Like me, she lives alone. We planned to walk to the nearest metro station, two and a half kilometers away. There’s a shopping center there, though we knew it would still be closed. The road there had always been a pleasant green corridor. But after two months without cars or people, the medians had become veritable forests. The plants were showing off new blossoms with the exuberance of a ballroom of debutantes, each one more colorful than the next.

As we walked, we came across weeds and wildflowers sprouting from every crack in the city’s surface — even the benches were shot through with sprouts. Lawns were a tangle of wild grass, dotted with flowers. When the wind rushed through them, they sounded like fields of grain. From a distance, the sight reminded me of the grasslands in my hometown in Xinjiang.

Grass grows outside a shopping mall in Shanghai, May 2022. Gao Zheng for Sixth Tone

I guess they were weeds, but I couldn’t stop looking at them. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed living things. If people just leave them alone, plants and animals thrive. That’s not to say we should lock everyone up for the sake of other species, but maybe we should change the ways we interact with nature.

The hedges along the road had grown to almost my height. More remarkably, they were flowering for the first time I could remember. Normally, they’re kept tightly cropped and trimmed. They’d never had an opportunity to bloom, and were seemingly intent on seizing their chance. The cherry trees, too, were sporting fruit. How had I never seen that before?

In a small park along the riverside, the seeds of wildflowers had mixed with their cultivated cousins to make beautiful matches. Some passersby plucked flowers for themselves; others harvested mugwort to hang during the coming Dragon Boat Festival. When we stopped to chat with an older woman, she shared some of her harvest with us — an unexpected windfall.

Elsewhere along the riverbank, we passed a small community vegetable garden. In it, an older gentleman was digging for potatoes. He told us that the rest of his vegetables had been stolen; the potatoes were all that was left. The garden had once been neatly manicured by area retirees. Now, it was overgrown with weeds, with hardly a vegetable in sight.

We walked, snapping photos all the while, for an hour before we reached the metro. The number of other people on the street began to rise, and traffic police were everywhere. The shopping mall was completely fenced off. Outside the barriers, people stood and snapped photos, probably thinking to themselves of the food and shops within, or perhaps of their life over the previous two months.

Like us, this was probably their first time outside their apartment compound in two months. There wasn’t anything to do but walk around, but their excitement was palpable. As they took in the wild growth around them, taking photos all the while, they, like us, marveled at nature’s magic.

My neighbor and I agreed that these scenes of unchecked growth were beautiful. Why should plants be pruned and trimmed to suit human plans? Why should anything be?

— Feng Jing; translator: Kilian O’Donnell; editor: David Cohen.


APK file for Android:

https://image4.sixthtone.com/pkg/sixthtone.apk
(Copy URL and open in browser)



微信扫码关注该文公众号作者

戳这里提交新闻线索和高质量文章给我们。
相关阅读
Shanghai Reopening Diary: City to Restart Some Schools From JuneShanghai Supermarkets Reopen, Kind OfA Star is Born, If You Don’t Mind the Silver SpoonStaff at Pet Shelter Bid Farewell To Four-legged FriendsShanghai Emerges From Lockdown to Familiar Sights and Sounds刚把“对手”看完, 若没有最后莫名其妙的老段和老公的缠绵,恐怕不会审查过关的Young Chinese Shunned Marriage. Now, They Want Singles’ Rights.Shanghai Rental Market Sees ‘Abrupt’ Post-Lockdown Growth中国为何求着俄国示好ReadLexington:The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai RandelWhen the Boat People Came to Hong KongGiving Rides to People on Their Way out of Locked-Down ShanghaiWhat the Railway Lobby Reveals About China’s Political SystemShanghai Reopening Diary: View From a Pudong MallSocial Network: How Shanghai Stemmed the Surge, 100 Years AgoWomen Want Pepper Spray To Keep Safe, But Buying It Isn’t Easy走进繁花:比利时(1)-欧洲的心脏Falling Grades, Threats, Toxic Culture: Why a Fan Quit Her IdolFreight or Flight: COVID Wake Leaves Shanghai Port High and DryLeaving Locked-Down Shanghai Is Hard. Returning Is Harder.看国内疫情Learning the True Meaning of Freedom a Gift for Children’s DayShanghai Lockdown Disrupts Wedding Plans on Day for LoversWith Bittersweet Memories, Students Leave Shanghai in DrovesWhen the Internet Knows Where You LiveThe Small Group Rescuing Animals During Shanghai LockdownHenan Bank Depositors Slam Gov’t Response to Red Health CodeShanghai Reopening Diary: A Day Out in One DistrictWhat Shanghai’s Locked-Down Residents are Trying to BuyThe Hidden History of an Iconic Shanghai Building StyleFrom Baghdad to the Bund: The Family That Built ShanghaiResidents Crowd COVID Test Sites to Move Across Shanghai FreelyShanghai’s 30-Year-Old Bakery Struggles to Beat Lockdown Woes从美国和中国的角度看俄乌战争的后果How China’s ‘Mom Groups’ Share the Work of Parenting
logo
联系我们隐私协议©2024 redian.news
Redian新闻
Redian.news刊载任何文章,不代表同意其说法或描述,仅为提供更多信息,也不构成任何建议。文章信息的合法性及真实性由其作者负责,与Redian.news及其运营公司无关。欢迎投稿,如发现稿件侵权,或作者不愿在本网发表文章,请版权拥有者通知本网处理。