This is the story of a very simple moment that was wonderfully perplexing yet straightforward at the same time. I was crammed into the backseat of a taxicab on our morning crawl to work, when for the fourth time that day our cab came to a stand still in the stubborn traffic. Without purpose or really any reason, all eight of our eyes meandered to the sidewalk and rested on a Chinese man standing there. He was tall and lanky. Or maybe slightly short…I don’t really remember plus I was sitting in a sunken down bucket seat, but he seemed rather stately or even regal standing there with a half chewed cigarette dangling from his lower lip and his eyes turned upwards. Then with the agility and suddenness of a wind up doll, he broke his calm stance and swiftly kicked the skinny trunk of the tree he stood under. Down fell dry, hardened shells of what I assumed were nuts. He then stared at the now grounded nuts with the same quiet contemplation before reaching down and shoveling them into his pockets. He walked 6 steps down the sidewalk to the next tree and began the same routine. It went something like this: Stand looking up for prolonged period of time. Suddenly and viciously kick the tree trunk. Look at the fallen nuts for another extra long feeling period of time. Pick up and put nuts into pockets. Walk to next tree and repeat. All the while looking utterly calm and blank.
“What is he doing!?!” was the first thing we said. The answer is perfectly simple. He’s harvesting. In the middle of a concrete Chinese metropolis he is preparing for winter by kicking down nuts of course. There is nothing strange about that…and really, all sarcasm removed, there isn’t.