You’ll have to trust me. It’s more thrilling than it sounds.
One night, after making this terrifically simple Melissa Clark ginger-scallion chicken dish for dinner, I eyed the leftover hairy scallion butts, laying discarded near the cutting board. On a whim, I arranged them roots-down in a jelly jar with a little bit of water. By the next morning, they were happily back on their way, a tender, alive thing, stretching toward the light.
Since then, checking on my scallions has become my favorite daily activity, the way taking a walk to get a coffee or picking up the mail used to be. I grew up in Virginia, helping out in my mother’s garden, and I know that we can regrow most of our everyday food: potatoes, ginger, celery, even carrot tops. Usually, it’s not terribly helpful knowledge in my Brooklyn kitchen, with each precious foot of counter space already overcrowded and accounted for.
But there’s nothing like a viral pandemic to inspire resourcefulness, especially when food feels so expensive and each trip to the store is laden with anxiety and fear. The Covid-19 crisis is asking us to reconsider so many things: Our relationship to wellness, our priorities, our values. Everything suddenly feels precious, and nothing should be wasted — time, energy, even food scraps. Maximizing every resource we have feels productive and reassuring, when little else does. It’s free comfort, and we shouldn’t squander that, either.
Spring, the season of renewal, is on hold. And for now, summer is too. Outside my home, there is little to no certainty. But my scallions? Each day, they rebound a little more, oblivious to anything else but growth.
Jenna Wortham is a staff writer for the NYT Magazine and co-host of “Still Processing.” She is the co-editor of the forthcoming visual anthology “Black Futures,” due out from One World in 2020.
Doodles by Shannon Lin and Jonathan Corum. Shannon is a digital news design fellow at The Times. Jonathan is the graphics editor for Science.