This weekend I’ve felt like I’ve been flying.
A friend lent me their bicycle for the past few days and it’s been as if my feet haven’t touched ground. The convenience of getting around, combined with the beautiful weather have lifted my spirits. I was able to see much more of Wudaoku (part of Haidian District in NW Beijing) than I’ve been able to before. We’ve been lucky in having a low pollution index the last few days so being outside is actually a pleasure and not just a coughing fest.
I’m also surprised at how much independence having a bicycle gives me. I’m able to take shortcuts that the subway can’t, and the street names and layout are becoming much clearer in my mind. The fears of being run over by crazy city traffic are as of yet unfounded, and the relaxed restrictions on where or where not one can ride are pretty nice.
One place I went on the weekend was the Morning Market by Peking University. It’s a giant outside market thronged with people. Though I’ve seen similar ones in Laos, Vietnam here it seemed to be a bit more orderly and to have more variety. There were rows, and rows, as far as the eye can see of fruits, vegetables, meat, household products and clothing. Everyone was chattering away and yelling to each other. The people I accompanied were two teachers at the aforementioned University. Both are Americans teaching English so I made myself useful by being the price translator. At fresh food markets they sell most of their products by 一斤 ( Yī jīn ) a pound. . Being used to buying just enough for one, I had to adjust in my thinking. I also noticed that if you didn’t quite by a pound they would add to it until it did. I thought this was a bit strange but maybe it’s universal, I wouldn’t know, usually I just buy two apples and I’m good.
I learned a lot in observing how to pick out vegetables and fruits. Coming from a big family I tend to always think the bigger the better, but in some cases I guess that’s not true (in very rare cases). As well I figure as much as people are advocates of homegrown “local” food I wonder if the majority of them would put up with the quality level. Some of the fruit still had dirt clinging to them and many were bruised and sullied, they pale in comparison to the genetically modified, yet aesthetically pleasing, produce on the grocery shelf.
Regardless, I am trying my hand at being a planter. I received some seeds the other day and feel it’s about high time I make use of them. The one difficulty is I forgot what they were called. The seeds are very tiny and I have perhaps 50 of them in a small zip block bag. I’m hoping they won’t take up a lot of space, because frankly my window sill isn’t that big. I’m excited at the prospect of growing something and will be very sneaky in digging up dirt around campus. I will also tend to it, with the tender love and care of a Mother, waiting with baited breath as it grows into something edible.