Y.H., 45, a teacher in Gallup, NM

This post is in collaboration with the NoiseFilter podcast

After three months without a haircut, my husband had a bright idea: cutting his hair, himself. It turned out that the person who actually had to do it was me. We took a kitchen chair into the bathroom and laid out newspapers on the floor. He got his yellow Remington trimmer. He told me how to trim his hair: hold the trimmer and just pull it back, just like a comb. First time, fine. He changed the spacer to the next smaller one, and I cut again. Fine. He changed the spacer the third time. Oh shit! I was kneeling down, adjusting the newspaper on the floor, and he said “Look, just like a comb.” Then I looked up and saw a bald strip. We essentially had to shave his head at the point. Had he not switched to the third spacer, everything would have been fine. Actually, it turned out okay. He does not look bad. He is a guy—it doesn’t matter. He was balding anyway. He said “We all need to do this once in our life time”.

With all this time staying home under quarantine, I learned to cherish what I own, my house as a shelter to protect myself and my family, and had the time to really observe and appreciate the town I live in and the landscape around me. Before this all came down, we always travelled whenever we got a break. With the lockdown, I had the time to notice that the Navajo Willow tree in my front yard was sick. Had I not been stuck at home under this pandemic, I would not have noticed the smell—foul vegetable and yeast— from the tree. I found holes in one of the branches we pruned last summer. I saw white sap coming out of the branch and a little bit from the trunk. I looked up Navajo Willow to discover it was sick with a disease called Alcoholic flux or slime flux. I then joined two disease-related tree/plant groups on Facebook in the hope of getting advice from people who know tree/plant diseases and how to take care of them. I observed my tree and then saw a long brown beetle once on the sick branch. I looked up willow tree on Google and was shocked to see the images of how beetle larvae devoured tree trunks and roots. Shocked by the images, I did not sleep well that night. I also finally ordered three pine trees that I wanted for the last few years and planted them with my hubby in my yard. Now, it’s the second wave, and I’ve learned to water and take care of them.

If not for the lockdown, I would never have had the time to observe the arrival of Spring: my Crabapple and Asian Pear trees bloomed this spring; the fuchsia and white flower petals fell on the ground and the green leaves came out. And then, the arrival of summer.

[submitted on 6/14/2020]

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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