It’s mid-March, the end of spring break here. On cue, daffodils and redbuds and Japanese magnolias are showing off. Bernard and our daughter are on the way home from Santa Fe (“epic powder skiing”), and the boy and I have mostly recovered from our trip to New Orleans and the saddest funeral I’ve ever attended (which I’ll tell you about another time, because I’ve decided today to be cheerful) (even though I’ve quite possibly torn something significant in my knee, just last night, playing tennis with my son).
Anyway, what I’ve been thinking about (or, one thing I’ve been thinking about) is how spring is a reopening, an awakening that brings a certain kind of release. It’s physical, like the snow releasing into the waterways, the trees pushing out tiny leaves. It’s also abstract, like that feeling of wanting to stand outside and stretch into the warm-ish sun, to let out the breath that has been confined since the onset of winter.
Spring, like blogging, is an exhale. (And thanks to New Zealand poet Rachel McAlpine for that reminder.) (Although it would be wrong not to point out the yin-yang here, that the vehicle for happy exhales of inconsequential joy is also the vehicle that has enabled the infection of fear and xenophobia. The world is a strange place.)
(And in the spirit of exhaling: Take a deep cleansing breath here. Do it now. Science says you’ll feel better.)
A few things I’ve been reading (or listening to)
If you have doubts about my push for pen-and-paper based correspondence (more on this later), read this recent post on the Ink+Volt blog, and remember that Ink+Volt, a company dedicated to paper-based planning, was founded by a woman who has spent her entire career in tech.
Speaking of tech, some news for math nerds (and I promise the story is fascinating, even though the title is dull): Pattern Computer Capitalizes on Synthesizing Big Data.
And also for nerds: Why your immune system is key in the fight against cancer.
To rekindle the flame of humanism, have a listen to Ear Hustle, the podcast produced from within San Quentin State Prison.
Not ready to give up on saving the planet (and humankind)? Here’s a relatively painless guide to cutting plastic out of your life.
And to remember why humankind is worth saving in the first place, don’t miss, “I’ve been looking for you for decades,” a real-life, bittersweet love story.
Because it seems strangely timely, perhaps you’ll join me in revisiting One Small Blog (Nora Ephron, 2005). Like a fine wine, this little sliver of everything and nothing has improved with age.
And last but not least, another throwback, this time to the 2003 essay by Gabriel García Márquez about his becoming a writer. (Also: not going to watch the Netflix adaptation of One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s just not right.)
Speaking of writing…
April is national card and letter writing month. No, I did not make that up all by myself. (Although I would have, if I’d thought of it first.)
If you need inspiration to join in this fun activity, have a look at the effervescent Sara McNally’s post from two years ago (and have a peek at her store, Constellation & Co.). Browse egg press stationery’s list of “Reasons to Write,” and join the #write_on campaign.
(Also, as an aside: Thank you notes are a career secret weapon.)
If you are in Memphis and ready to stock up on cards this very minute, head to Diane’s on Overton Park, or to the gift shop at Brooks Museum, or the gift shop at the Botanic Garden, or to Ménage on Perkins. These are just a few of my favorite brick and mortar, local spots. My favorite local post office? Crosstown, of course.
(and yes, of course there are also cards at Larksome Goods)
Want to do something different? Try greetabl, a card and gift in one.
Whatever you choose, do yourself a favor and send at least one card, by mail, during the month of April. Few things match the pure and simple thrill of retrieving a hand-written note from the mailbox, and someone in your life deserves that little bit of joy.
Food & Cooking
Yes, it could be time to cook corned beef and cabbage, or a rich Guinness stew. But it could also be the time to prepare green food that gives a nod both to St. Patrick and to spring (also: healthyish).
Here are some ideas:
Dave T’s spinach cake (how many times have I recommended this recipe? Too many to count, and always linking to the full post by David Lebovitz, because it too is lovely.)
Saffron Pistachio Soup (pinched from an Ottolenghi recipe, I think) (and if you just can’t wrap your head around pistachio soup, here’s an old reliable that you might enjoy: Chicken Curry Soup with Coconut and Lime) (limes are green, even if the soup isn’t)
Persian Herb & Leek Fritatta (another one I’ve recommended several times, and you really should try it, if you haven’t already, because it’s delicious)