Weekend Reading
June 27, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

As soon as I returned from Denver this week, I got an unexpected visit from my oldest friend. She’s staying upstate this summer, and she had time to pop into NYC for the evening.

We had a grand time wandering around downtown Manhattan, eating and drinking good things, laughing. It was the kind of carefree, one-on-one time that we rarely have these days, now that we live in different cities and she’s a mom of two young kids.

I woke up on Saturday when the uneasy, scattered, irritable feeling that I get when I’m overwhelmed. Between work travel and more socializing than usual, I haven’t really had a moment to catch up on day-to-day business. I still have a lot of recipes to develop for the cookbook. My cooking paralysis is better, but it’s not gone.

And then there’s life reopening, and all of the fun that comes with it. There are so many things I want to do and people I want to see right now. Those plans aren’t always compatible with hours and hours in the kitchen each day.

While I was in Denver, there was a memorial service for my godmother, who passed away this fall. I know that Zoom memorials became a reality for many during the pandemic; this memorial involved a physical gathering in New York and a Zoom invitation for those who couldn’t attend in person.

I logged on from Ashley’s home, but as I waited for things to begin I felt compelled to leave the house and take in the service from outside.

My godmother was an artist, writer, and storyteller. Many things captured her imagination, including Arthurian legends and classic fairy tales. But in spite of the fact that she lived in New York City, my godmother had a special connection to the natural world and to animals. It felt very right to watch her memorial from beneath the branches of a big, shady tree, as birds chirped and bugs buzzed softly in the late afternoon.

The season that I’ve always associated with my godmother is early winter. She adored the holidays, as I do. She celebrated them wholeheartedly, from the first day of advent to Three Kings’ Day. So I was surprised when her sister noted how appropriate it was for us to honor her life in the month of June.

My godmother was a June baby, like me. But this isn’t the only reason that her sister thought to link my godmother’s legacy to the first official month of summer. June is a “magical month,” she said. It’s a time of hope, of possibility, of enchantment. My godmother had an effervescent spirit; it’s appropriate that she was born only one day after the summer solstice.

I got to thinking about the magical month of June and the magic I’ve felt in my bones as I watch New York City come alive again. I thought about my own experience of coming back to life this year, after a period of deep depression that seemed as though it would never end.

I also thought about the many lives that have been lost this year, my godmother’s life included. I’ve been feeling so celebratory lately that I sometimes forget about Covid’s terrible cost, the grief that so many individuals and families are still coping with around the world.

If she could send me any message right now, I know that my godmother would tell me to embrace this month and all of the time that I have. She’d affirm the deep calling I already feel to get out of my head and into the world. She’d encourage me to soak up every moment with my friends, to laugh and joke around the way she and my mother did right into their sixth decade of friendship.

Thursday, when my friend Chloe visited, was one of the most fun days I’ve had in a long time. I know that I’ll remember it for years to come—the beautiful weather, the giggles, the incredible energy on the streets as we walked around. To fixate on the tasks that got put aside for 24 hours or the fact that I’m behind on work isn’t the order of priorities that I want in my life right now.

So here’s to June, the season of magic. Here’s to a summer that’s as rich and full of experience as can be—sights, sounds, places, people. I’ve got a lot to do, but I’m determined to soak up as much scenery as I can, to connect, to laugh, to travel, to live. It’s what my godmother would have wanted. And it’s what I want for myself.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Ania’s spelt crackers look terrific.

A great looking summer tomato and roasted vegetable risotto.

Izy’s chorizo potato tacos are perfect for summer. (You can use any vegan sausage you have.)

Love the looks of these sticky orange tofu cubes, especially with some freshly cooked rice.

Mmmm, vegan lemon panna cotta.

Reads

1. Megan Mayhew Bergman reflects on observing migratory birds from the house boat she had the courage to move into during the pandemic. I love this:

It takes a certain determination to stay tethered to the lives and places that matter to you, to steer full-selved into the divine chaos, knowing that it will change on you as soon as you have your bearings. Migratory birds know this instinctually, and yet each year they chance the voyages between their different homes. The plan never fully comes together, but we take the risk of dreaming, again and again.

2. An important expose of the challenges that doctors face in seeking much needed mental health support.

3. Also on the topic of mental health, a look at the psychological toll of climate change, including PTSD due to displacement and loss of property.

4. The human genome is complete.

5. Finally, on the topic of grief and memory, professor Anand Menon writes about the shock of losing his immediate family during the pandemic. It’s raw and brave.

Have a restful Sunday, all.

xo

 

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