The Boy Who Lived: Coronavirus Quarantine Diary - Chapter 4 | Highlife

The Boy Who Lived: Coronavirus Quarantine Diary – Chapter 4

I’ve never really liked birds, and this holds true even during a Pandemic. 

Last week, about six or eight days after my germinated seeds first sprouted, I watched to my horror as pigeons ate two of the three sprouts growing out on our balcony, leaving only one survivor to remain. A couple of days earlier, my daughters and I had crafted a scarecrow out of an old IKEA seat bottom and drew a face on it with lipstick to keep birds out of our garden, but somehow that didn’t work.


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Like Nemo, after the barracuda eats his mother and all of the remaining eggs in the clutch, the sole surviving sprout became the vessel of my hopes, the fulcrum of my being as a pot farmer. 

“The Boy Who Lived” will now grow up in the shadow of tragedy, doomed to carry the burden of being the only survivor to carry on the family’s name. 

homemade scarecrow

The “scarecrow” – worked about as well as you’d expect. (Photo: Ben Hartman)

(Police: I still plan on throwing the plant out once it actually flowers. This is not worth your time if you are an Israeli cop who is reading English good). 

I say boy because I have no idea if the plant is male or female, but I’m working with the assumption that the sprout is male so that I don’t get my hopes up. The year is 2020, and so far, all hope is lost. So I assume I’ll have a failson born into privilege with no accomplishments to speak of. This is why I have named my sprout Jared Kush-ner. 

Also, this means it’ll be that much sweeter if I do have a third daughter in the end. 

My first two weeks as a pot farmer have been befitting an agrarian life. We pitched a tent in the living room a week ago, and I sleep out here with my daughters (aged 4 and 6) most nights, waking early with a bad back shortly after sunrise, looking out over the strawberry and sweet potato fields across the street from our apartment complex. I walk out to the balcony and gaze over the fields and nod, like a sorghum farmer in a campaign ad for a Republican congressman in Kansas. And like an isolated farmhand, I only congregate with my wife and children and think mainly of disease and an early grave. 

Speaking of which, this past week was the Jewish holiday of Passover, which was held for the first time ever on Zoom. It’s always fun to celebrate a holiday about slavery, plagues, and divine genocide, but even more so when there is an actual plague in full effect, and yet even more so when you can add the dystopian feature of holding the festive meal with your extended family by way of video conferencing software. 

In all honesty, though, there was something very special and dare I say….moving about the whole thing. Definitely, a Passover to remember. 

Also, I learned that you could make weed firecrackers out of matzah. The bread of affliction, you say? Not necessarily. 

Fire matzah

We’re calling it ‘fire matzah’ (Photo: Ben Hartman)

Beyond all that, and putting aside the measly marijuana sprout whose days are numbered, these last couple weeks have been memorable in a deeply powerful and moving way, especially as a father. 

No pigeon can take that away from me.