It’s spring now, I can say that confidently, as we had a full-fledged dark-sky thunderstorm this afternoon and I’ve been listening to all sorts of Sufjan Stevens and there are buds on almost all the trees, not just the brave first few. Good things. Spring is always, always astonishing to me, maybe especially now that I’m a city dweller (for the time being), where the winters feel especially drab and dark and desolate.
It’s also Holy Week, even more astonishing. Yesterday while I pieced my sixth of ten weathervane variation quilt blocks (in which the printed fabric component boasted little green sprouts which I deemed as palm branches), I meandered my way through all the Christian-ish music I like (there isn’t very much of it that I can tolerate, unfortunately, in my possibly-problematic snobbishness). I settled on a couple of albums: Through the Deep, Dark Valley by the Oh Hellos, which feels so true and genuine and full, Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens, which always moves right through me, especially “The Transfiguration”, and He Will Not Cry Out by Bifrost Arts, full of hymns and spiritual songs, never too literal or cringey, and very good to scratch a slight bluegrass itch.
In other music news, I’ve been slowly cultivating a playlist called “Spring Songs” , which I’m feeling pretty good about at this point. If you’re looking for Barbra Streisand, Lucius, Leonard Cohen, and Chance the Rapper, etc. all in one place, look no further. It’s great for afternoons quilting and humming and eating baked goods and tortilla chips, (aka my best days).
Speaking of baked goods, I made baked oatmeal this morning after my husband remembered its existence last night. It’s one of the best things, really, oatmeal in any form, but baked oatmeal is possibly especially good with its cinammon-y fragrance as it takes its time in the oven. I like Orangette’s recipe, which I made with chopped almonds and a scant 1/4 cup of the maple syrup instead of 1/3 cup (and it tasted perfect to me). She also has great leftover oatmeal muffins if you’re into that sort of thing (you should be). I also have my eye on her blackberry oat scones which I would make with whole wheat pastry flour, probably, and a little less brown sugar. Also, these nutmeg muffins seem pretty wonderful. Spring is making me want to bake all the oat-y barely sweet things in the world and I don’t know why!
Yesterday morning I finished a book called Bleaker House by Nell Stevens, which I tore through and loved every moment of. It’s one of the lovely sort of books that is about writing and also being a person and that lets the minutia of days be important and also throws in some fiction and is an all-around hybrid of literary trying and musing. A short summary: a young writer spends grant money on a three month trip to an uninhabited island in the Falklands where she must (!!!) finish her first novel. It reminded me of Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett a little bit (mostly the isolation / engaging female narrator bit – that book sort of always stays in the back of my mind so read it definitely if you haven’t yet) and left me wanting to read both Bleak House and Middlemarch asap. Now I’m onto Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, and I wonder if I’ll race through it as quickly as I did Bleaker House.
We celebrated Annie’s birthday at The Winchester this weekend, which I think I will now declare as my favorite brunch in Chicago (and conveniently-so as it is only a few blocks from my apartment). Their egg sandwich is nearly perfect, and they brought out a sugar-crusted waffle with a candle for a birthday dessert. After brunch, my dearest friends and I walked around Wicker Park under blossoming trees and sun, and I felt lucky to live in this certain place in this certain time while we are all close and available to each other.
Another tidbit: recently, I paid a visit to Martha Mae Art Supplies in Andersonville, which I will now official deem the most beautiful shop in Chicago. It is chock-full of intensely beautiful writing instruments and art supplies, the likes of which I will never be able to afford. I spent a good thirty minutes shuffling around the shop and touching everything, and ended up buying only a pretty little triangular eraser instead of the expensive set of blackwing pencils that I really wanted. Someday.
I’m passing these days by keeping my feet moving, eating cheerios and milk in the morning with english breakfast tea, taking the kids I nanny outside as much as possible, and squeezing in quilt blocks as often as I can. When I stop and let myself worry, I feel bits of things that I care about falling through the cracks, but I’m trying not to worry so much and in some ways it’s working. Sometimes I let a day just be a day, I let the things I accomplish in that day be just the things I accomplish, and then that is that. Maybe it’s spring in all its straightforward work and beauty rising up in me. Maybe it’s a shift in my heart. Maybe it’s just a brief interlude of simplicity. But whatever it is, I’m enjoying taking walks, listening to music, eating golden delicious apples, doing what it is I have to do in my day. Things are on the cusp of changing always and forever it seems, but today I’m here and I might even know what’s going on.