The house where i am living now has (by my standards) a huge garden with trees and everything. I'm sharing with the landlord and two other tenants, one of whom lives in the shed and has a truck with a camper and a fishing boat on it.
There are a lot of truck campers around here.
Also lumberjacks and cowboys.
Since this town is too small to sustain a bike rental through corona times (tourism downturn), i bought a bike with the money i saved from the next half-month of rent (versus motel).
I haven't owned a bike since i was a teenager. I've always made do with rentals or (in China) share bikes. They've come a long way since the 90s. Even the cheapest bikes come with suspension and hydraulic disc brakes and quick release wheels now. This led me to spending an inordinate amount of money on two heavy-duty chains to lock it up, since i guess any passing thief could just unhook a wheel. I'm also afraid to actually use the bike for going anywhere where i'd normally leave one, for example the grocery store parking lot.
On the other hand, it is brilliant to have the mobility in a town that - while relatively pedestrian-friendly for North America - is spread out to car proportions. Yesterday i did a 15km circle which would've taken a couple hours on foot. I went through a bit of rural area where houses had fields out the back! Not small-holds packed with cabbage and corn like in China, but vast meadows! Feels like you can breathe.
Since this town is in a valley, there are also some steep hills, and lordy my ass is not fit at all. I thought i was fit, but i'm not.
I miss having concrete walls around me. Gardens are kind of terrifying. So much work to maintain. One of the terms of my handshake lease is to water the plants on the balcony. Dude. That's a lot.
I think if i had a house i'd leave the lot bare, maybe put a lawn flamingo in or something. I know from my childhood that i can't even keep cactuses alive.
I'm feeling a little unsettled about owning a bike. It's the first time i've owned more stuff than i can carry on my back since leaving Canada all those years ago. I am trying to make peace with the fact this is temporary. I've probably only got 2 months that i can actually ride it, and my regular backpack isn't the kind you could ride with, so i might end up selling it again. I dunno. I feel a bit backed into a corner, but not as far backed into a corner as if i'd bought a car or gotten a 12-month lease.
My plan for the next couple months is to sit, think and try figure it all out.
Right now i'm sitting at a dining table - God, i haven't had a dining table in over a decade - watching tiny birds eat from the feeder outside. A train is trundling by, with JESUS graffitied over one of the hoppers. There was a touch of rain this morning, but now the sun is shining and in the distance i can see the blue river and sandy hills.
This is something like an odd retirement.
Yesterday i cooked up something i will call mapo taco. I had visited the (sole) Asian grocery and picked up some 豆瓣酱 doubanjiang, 花椒 Sichuan pepper and Lao Gan Ma, but i underestimated the whiteness of the regular grocery store, because they only had Japanese soy sauce and no cooking wine or vinegar. There also appears to be a massive shortage of ginger, given the only ginger available was a tiny jar of pulverized goo that is barely enough to cook a single meal. How can you have a whole shelf of different salts and peppers but still not even sell fresh ginger? Or cumin seeds? I tell you what. At least there was a whole shelf of different peanut butters and two whole shelves of canned beans. I missed that stuff.
I also visited the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant and got something like a bún thịt nướng chay. They described it as vege rice noodle salad, i think. I have absolutely no idea how to speak Vietnamese, but i realized that it's been a long time since i lived somewhere that only has the English names of things on the menu, so i don't know what English name corresponds to which dish.
They also didn't give a chopsticks because "most people don't know how to use them". Which. I mean. I feel sorry for the people trying to eat noodles with a fork.
Small town life, man. It's fine.
I have no idea what i am going to do today. But the beauty of having a place is that i don't really need to know. Maybe go for a bike ride. Maybe stay in. I still need to process this.