Welcome. Winters are hard on the Hoya carnosa hanging in my bathroom window. Some time in October, the radiator heat sputters on, the sun gets stingy and the plant’s wax-leaved vines begin to shrivel and fall off. By April, the plant is spiky and parched, the leaves luster-free and a little bit dusty. I remove the dead foliage and start over, coaxing the plant back to health. By July it’s usually a living thing again.
Margaret Roach’s In the Garden column this week asks and answers the question many of us are asking of the droopy or crispy specimens on the windowsill: “Can This Houseplant Be Saved?” Roach consulted Darryl Cheng of @houseplantjournal, an Instagram account that dispenses plant wisdom like “Accept that your plants are always growing and changing” and “Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have total control in maintaining perfection” to more than 600,000 followers. Some foliage can be saved. For others, it’s farewell — as Cheng describes it, “a retirement party where the send off message is: thank you for photosynthesis!”
We’re all trying to figure out how to bloom again. Glynnis MacNicol reconsidered Nora Ephron’s essay collection “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” published 15 years ago, and, after 14 months of scrutinizing her own neck on video calls, is feeling pretty great about hers. “One of the skills I’ve acquired since turning 40,” she writes, “is the ability to recognize there will likely always be a gap between seeing a photo of myself and appreciating it. That gap, I’ve realized, is the time it takes me to overcome all the ways I’ve been taught to value myself in the world. The older I get, the more I understand that delay as evidence of a sort of theft.”
As Tala Schlossberg tells us in her latest video for Opinion, the weight-loss industry is counting on people’s post-quarantine dissatisfaction with their bodies to hawk appetite-suppressants and fad diets. Jennifer Weiner wrote a guest essay on this topic a couple of weeks ago, concluding (about the pandemic) that “each of us should cherish the body that got us through it, rather than punish it for failing to fit into last year’s skinny jeans.”
It’s been quite a year. Our bodies and minds, the leaves and flowers of our own organisms, need tending and tenderness. Take a gratitude photo. Hug someone you haven’t been able to for a while. Make a dentist appointment. (If you haven’t been since 2019, or earlier, I can’t recommend this enough.) Plan your June reading. (I pre-ordered Zakiya Dalila Harris’s “The Other Black Girl,” billed thusly: “If Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ were a workplace novel.”) Plan a vacation. (Or just see how one travel writer spent the pandemic living in a modified SUV.)
A reader recommends.
Lyle Koivisto in Saginaw, Minn., recommends reuniting with old friends.
I am a 76-year-old widower. The widow of a friend and I had been meeting daily on Google for months during the pandemic. After we both got the vaccine we met after not seeing each other for seven years. It was fireworks! Joy times 100!
How are you getting ready for summer? What, if anything, are you doing to prep for the season — physically, psychologically, emotionally? Tell us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full, cultured life at home and away appear below. See you on Friday.