Good morning. We’re deep in winter on the East Coast of the United States, starting and finishing our days in darkness, frost on the windowpanes, salty grit at the doorstep. It’d be nice to have a roaring fire this weekend, at some giant pile of a house like something out a John Irving novel, sit on a couch in front of it for a while, then head into the huge kitchen to make dinner: a fresh ham; baked beans; mashed parsnips; a honking big double apple pie.
Good on you if that’s possible. For most of us, it’s not. It’s just another weekend in the same place we’ve been for months and months, working or looking for work, schooling or struggling with schooling, living or just approximating living, day after day. Saturday, Sunday? For some of us, they may as well be Tuesday or Thursday.
Fight that feeling, please. If you’re off the next two days from whatever it is you do during the week, see if you can’t bring some cheery big-house energy into your place of residence, however small and cramped and familiar it has come to feel.
Bake a mushroom lasagna (above), with a tart Italian salad and a peach cobbler for dessert. (Use canned peaches. We are living through a pandemic. It’s fine.) Make braised lamb with celery root purée. Assemble a blackout cake. Set up some gravlax for next weekend. Make yourself useful to yourself and to those who eat your food.
Embrace projects: fresh pasta dough for tagliatelle with prosciutto and butter, say, or saffron honey marshmallows, some Spicy Big Tray Chicken. Use the weekend to give yourself a proper break from the strain or monotony of the week that was, to lose yourself in a recipe, to offer yourself the chance to experience a delicious joy.
Or, you know, watch television instead. The 25th Winter X Games competition gets underway today in Aspen, Colo., and if this year is going to look very different from the preceding ones on account of the coronavirus, I’m still hoping it leads to a lot of amplitude on the screen and excitement on the couch. We have loads and loads of excellent recipes for chicken wings, anyway!
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Now, it’s nothing to do with corn pone or belly lox, but I spent 15 minutes the other day watching a red-tailed hawk hunt a low salt marsh for rabbits, so Tiana Clark’s new poem in The Atlantic, “I Stare at a Cormorant,” really resonated. Birds are there, and then they’re not. They’re not going to save us.
Of course you should read Keziah Weir on Billie Eilish in Vanity Fair, but what really set me back was the fact that it’s the cover story for the March issue of the magazine. March! We’ve been dealing with this virus for a very long time. (So long, in fact, that you may wish to start planning your summer garden and avail yourself of Modern Farmer’s new guide to buying seeds.)
Here’s James Booker, “Junco Partner,” live in 1978.
Finally, it’s coming up on 20 years since Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Definitely time to reread it if you’ve read it, and past time to read it if you haven’t. To the weekend! I’ll see you on Sunday.