Welcome. The At Home team got a lovely email recently from a woman in Brooklyn who lives near Prospect Park. One of her pandemic activities, she reported, is to go to the park to collect trash. She walks in one direction, gloved and masked, picking up detritus and filling a plastic bag. Then she walks back across the fields she’s made pristine. “It looks clean,” she wrote, “and I’m filled with happiness I can share by protecting this recreational area as a sanctuary during a pandemic.”
It’s worth giving that activity a try yourself this weekend, treating our shared, outside world as an extension of our own homes, places to care for and clean. I did with my kids, taking a long walk along a shoreline where people come to escape their hot apartments, to catch a breeze, to shoot the breeze. We managed three full garbage bags walking in one direction. And we thrilled to the beauty of our return journey, just as the letter writer did.
Life during the pandemic can be lonely, even if you’re lucky enough to have a pod. Picking up garbage in public, amazingly enough, can help alleviate it. People called out thanks and kudos as we walked. Conversations abounded, of just the sort we used to fall into with strangers before the virus came, albeit at a distance, albeit with masks.
More good ideas for living a good life at home and near it appears below. Please write and tell us what else you’d like to know about: email@example.com. And we’ll try to be helpful to you, as this week a nice reader from Brooklyn was to us.
How to pass the time.
“Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head)” became the soundtrack for thousands of TikTok videos this year. Our critic Jon Caramanica says the track by Powfu, a 21-year-old musician from Vancouver, is one of the year’s best pop songs. And the Afro-fusion artist Burna Boy has a new album, mostly recorded during the pandemic, coming August 13. It was executive produced by Diddy and features guest appearances from Naughty by Nature, Chris Martin and Youssou N’Dour.
“Did I still love the city if bars and museums were closed? If there were no plays, musicals or movies?” Our photographic timeline of the past five months looks at a season of massive change in New York City. And while life is not quite back to normal, city dwellers are taking the ferry to Governors Island and sunbathing in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The Public Theater suspended its Shakespeare in the Park series this year for the first time, but the PBS series Great Performances has made last summer’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” starring Danielle Brooks, available on its website into September. Other suggestions from our culture writers for what to do this weekend include taking in a livestream of the tenor saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and checking out Sonos Radio, which offers a selection of curated programs from the likes of Khruangbin and David Byrne. (Those without Sonos devices can listen on demand on Mixcloud.)
What to watch.
If you’re missing the zaniness of “Barry” and have a half-hour to spare, Margaret Lyons suggests you watch “Hitmen” on Peacock Premium, starring the “Great British Baking Show” hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. (The first episode is free.)
Every day feels the same right now, it’s true, so why not take in a final streaming of “Groundhog Day” before it leaves Netflix this month? “Clueless” is on its way out too, so schedule a viewing and make it a mini 1990s film fest weekend. (If your tastes skew more ’80s, you’ve also got until the 31st to watch “The Karate Kid,” “Tootsie” and “School Daze.”)
And if you’re in the mood for a new release, our critic Lovia Gyarkye says the new adaptation of “The Secret Garden” is just as charming as you remember.
How to deal.
Every cough, every sneeze, every tickle in the throat makes you wonder if you’ve caught Covid-19. The symptoms can be unpredictable. Our interactive guide can help you understand them. And if you’ve hit a “pandemic wall,” you’re not alone. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll showed that a majority of American adults believes the pandemic is affecting their mental health.
Dreaming of future travel? Hotels are trying to put travelers’ minds at ease: Hilton has partnered with Lysol, Radisson clerks toss you your key from three feet away and, at many chains, breakfast buffets are a thing of the past.
Pet adoptions have gone way up during the pandemic as lockdown has led to loneliness. If you’re considering a pandemic puppy, you don’t have to sacrifice style at home. But you’ll want to choose furniture colors that complement your pet’s fur, invest in a powerful vacuum and accept that your new family member is probably going to scratch up your leather sofa and gnaw on stray slippers.
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