Weekend Reading
May 17, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

It’s now warm enough that my mom and I can take socially distanced walks here in NYC. After so many weeks of no contact at all, this limited contact feels like real a treat.

We’ve developed some cute little traditions for our walks. We often convene midway between her apartment building and mine. My mom is more punctual than I am, so she’s always waiting for me as I scramble to meet her. We can spot each other almost two blocks away. When I see her, I start waving to her wildly, and she waves enthusiastically back. Sometimes I wonder how we appear to passersby who don’t realize that we’re waving to each other!

Since we can’t hug, we’ve got a goofy little open-armed, rocking gesture that we make to signify hugging. Once again, we usually start doing this well before we’re six feet apart, which makes us look a little crazy. But the excitement and anticipation captured in this motion—as if we can’t wait to be at least close enough to hear each other talk—is adorable.

Walking with six feet of distance on a New York City street isn’t always easy. It usually requires an awkward diagonal formation, especially if there are other pedestrians close by. With our masks on, we have to yell a little to actually chat. But it’s fine. It’s so much better than not walking at all, which is how it was when it was colder out and how it still is on rainy days.

I learned recently that my mom and a close friend of ours have been signaling “goodnight” to each other with flashlights, since their buildings are two blocks away and their apartments units are within eyesight. I often see my neighbors who have balconies waving hello to each other, and I wonder if they interacted before quarantine, or whether this period of time has actually introduced them to each other. A portion of the avenue around the corner from where I live recently blocked car traffic, so that pedestrians and cyclists can have some safe distance from each other as the weather warms up. I now see lots of families riding bikes or walking in wide, staggered formations.

All of this may sound strange, and possibly a little sad. Sometimes it feels a little sad. There are days when I wish it could be more than it is, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But most of the time, these rituals and sights are heartening. Isn’t it amazing how people adapt? Isn’t it cool that we find ways to stay close to each other, no matter what that looks like?

When I was a post-bacc student, and at some points last year, there wasn’t much space in my schedule for pleasurable activities. When I was living in DC, anything that qualified as “fun” also registered as very precious. Dinner with a friend, catching up with someone on the phone, leaving the library for lunch outdoors, a yoga class: I learned to cherish these activities in ways that I never had before.

So it is with human contact now. I can’t imagine how it’ll feel to be able to hug people again, how gathering with my yoga community in person will be (not that we haven’t been doing an admirable job of staying close over Zoom), how much I’ll appreciate going out to dinner at a restaurant or sitting in the window of a bustling coffee shop. I think about things like theater, opera, or outdoor concerts—how did I ever take them for granted?—and wonder how it’ll be when the performing arts are alive and well again. I try not to speculate about when these things will happen, but simply to hold onto the certainty that they will. And when they do, I’ll appreciate them in a much more profound way.

I resist attaching an overarching meaning to what’s happening right now; there’s been too much loss and suffering as a result of this pandemic, not to mention unequal and unjust distribution of suffering, for me to do that. But I think that it’s human nature to discern some meaning in how we survive difficult things. I’ve endured very little loss or discomfort, all things considered, during the crisis. But I’ve found small ways to adjust to the changes that I’ve faced. So has my mom. So have my neighbors. And so have many others who have grappled with considerably bigger challenges and losses. I’m humbled by all of the resilience that I see.

Acknowledging and honoring your resilience, too. Happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

As it warms up here in NYC, I’m thinking about the many tasty pasta salad lunches I’ll be enjoying this summer. I love the looks of Kathy’s recipe, which features a zesty balsamic dressing and pickled onions. (Why have I never added pickled onions to pasta salad before?!)

Yesterday I was craving a treat, but uncharacteristically not in the mood to bake; it was a very low-energy Saturday. I made a quick homemade s’more with Dandies marshmallows, chocolate, and some vegan graham crackers I had at home (I like them in general, but especially for quick/easy pie crusts).

It occurred to me that I’ve never made my own graham crackers, which led me to Google searching and to Samantha Seneviratne’s recipe. I’m a great fan of Samantha’s books—I have The New Sugar & Spice and The Joys of Baking—and her loving approach to home baking. I usually veganize her recipes, but these grahams are vegan as written, and I’m excited to try them.

Sarah’s portobello sliders with caramelized onions are also perfect for summer, and for whatever socially distanced Memorial Day gatherings we’ll all creatively come up with 🙂

A nutritious, easy, adaptable supper: Sophie’s baked yam with cashew cream.

Finally, Amanda’s vegan sticky date cake. I’m excited about this for so many reasons: my love of sheet cake/snacking cake, my love of dates, and the fact that Amanda’s recipes are always winners. Excited to try it.

Reads

1. A sweet little offering for the young people in our lives who may be confused about what’s going on right now. Sesame Street’s Grover answers some questions about coping, shares ideas for staying connected to friends, and reminds us that it’s OK to feel sad sometimes.

2. Along similar lines, a new study suggests that kids can sense when their parents are stressed and that having an honest conversation about stress and its impact (rather than trying to hide or suppress it) can benefit whole families.

3. Maria passed this article along to me, and it felt like a small piece of good news in these trying times. The article describes how farmers who typically don’t grow fruits and vegetables have been adapting. Some of them are now planting fields of okra, legumes, melons, radishes, turnips, tomatoes, and grains. It’s nice to imagine and visualize the seeds bearing fruit this coming summer!

4. An interesting look at how the health minister of the Indian state of Kerala, a former teacher, managed to successfully contain and manage COVID-19, earning her the nickname of “coronavirus slayer.”

5. Competing schools of thought are common in most disciplines, including the sciences. A crisis like the one we’re facing can underscore disagreement, as experts scramble to propose solutions, but Marc Lipsitch has written a compelling op-ed on why this is a good time for specialists to find common ground.

My perspective is limited, but everything I’ve observed in my training and dietetics practice has showed me that patients have the best outcomes when specialists work together toward a common goal of coordinated care. A lot can happen when people are willing to share their best knowledge while also acknowledging the limits of their expertise. This seems to be what Lipsitch is saying, too.

Friends, I wish you a peaceful Sunday. It’s a beautiful day in NYC—not too cool, not too muggy—and mom and I have a socially distanced walk planned. Wild and crazy hugging gestures included.

xo

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