There’s a lot to be angry about. A lot to worry over, and shout over, and be deeply, deeply unsettled by. In these times, I think it’s even more important to seek out and recognize the little things that make life better. And thus, old-fashioned pleasures.
What makes something old-fashioned? My entirely arbitrary definition is that the thing or activity should have existed for more than fifty years (in some form or another), and it probably shouldn’t cost a whole lot. Old-fashioned pleasures are most likely low-tech, and usually not terribly fancy.
Here’s this week’s list:
- Rambling walks
A walkable neighborhood is a glorious thing. I’ve been trying to take walks without any particular destination in mind. The weather has been particularly (and slightly freakily) mild, so it’s been easy to convince myself to hit the pavement.
I’ve lived in the same apartment for six years, and it’s easy to only go on my established routes. “This is the way I go to the train, this is the way I go to the store, here is where I catch the bus…” Mixing things up allows me to discover the new things I’ve been missing, which are often only a couple of blocks away.
Monday’s walk took me around and about Rogers Park, a neighborhood I almost live in, and all the way to Lake Michigan. I felt a lot more like a person at the end of it.
Nature can be hard to come by in the city, but Chicago’s lake front helps a lot. I know I can always get a healthy dose of air, water, and sky. This week, I found some sea glass, which feels like treasure.
- Sourdough starter
This one is really old-fashioned, pretty much ancient. I’ve started experimenting with sourdough bread. Sourdough uses the natural yeasts from the air to leaven bread. It’s what people used before commercial yeast was available (Fleischmann’s Yeast was founded in 1868).
Sourdough is magical.
This is my starter, and it’s kind of like a pet. It requires regular feedings of flour and water, and can’t be left on its own very long. It’s worth it, though. It yields tangy loaves with a crispy crust, and it makes me feel like a harvest goddess. I may or may not dance around shouting, “I have brought forth bread from the very air!” while baking.
- Live music
Okay, it’s silly that I have to be reminded how great live music is. My fiance is a musician. I am a musician. I grew up surrounded by musicians, making music, and going to concerts, taking music lessons, and yet…every time I go to a concert, I am struck by how much I like it, and how much more often I should do it.
In one of my periodic fits of remembering that I like listening to live music, I looked for free concerts. That brought my attention to the Fourth Presbyterian Church’s concert series. They were hosting a free evening of Bach (Brandenburg Concertos), performed by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and I decided to check it out.
It was lovely. (And Yo-Yo Ma was there). The young artists of the orchestra were impressively skilled, and there is something so life-affirming about Bach. I’m grateful for modern recording technology, since it means we can listen to just about anything anytime, but that makes watching and listening to music as it happens, sharing the space with the people making it, is extra special.
Fourth Presbyterian also has a beautiful (circa 1871) sanctuary, so that was an added delight.
- Agatha Christie
I went to see Murder on the Orient Express and enjoyed it heartily. This has sent me off on an Agatha Christie kick. I’m reading Death on the Nile, and am, perhaps, low-key obsessed with Poirot.
I’m half-heartedly trying to read books instead of screens before bed. The other novel I’m reading, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, is way, way, too disturbing for pre-bed reading. It is almost too disturbing to read at all, to be honest. But an Agatha Christie novel? Perfection.
How about you? What old-fashioned pleasures have you enjoyed this week?