I’m Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is so Beautiful – a weekly newsletter lovingly curated to demonstrate that, despite what you may have heard or even seen, the world is ablaze with beauty. If somebody forwarded this to you, you can get your own subscription here.
For two years, like many of you, we went virtually nowhere. But this spring, we have been out of town most weekends.
Some of it was good. To see my mom for Mother’s Day. To see my nephew graduate high school. To see my wife’s sister whom we hadn’t seen in over 5 years. To the beach last weekend to celebrate my 50th birthday.
And some of it wasn’t. Like twice when we went to Little Rock, both times for the funerals of immunocompromised people who died from the aftermath of COVID. The most recent of these was this past Saturday – we got in around supper time Sunday night.
It’s always good to be home after being away, even if you are only gone for a few days like we were. The cats were indifferent to our return – honestly, if they had thumbs and voices, I’m pretty sure they would not allow us to stay here – but later curled up on the couch beside me as I read as if the time away hadn’t happened.
This morning I made my coffee and then sat by the frog pond, and watched a robin visit and steal bits of mulch from the flower bed and take it elsewhere. The tadpoles seem even more numerous than before we left Friday, and while it was already 75 degrees at 6:30 this morning, the breeze that was blowing made everything nice. Well, the breeze and the large pine tree which shades the frog pond until about 8:30.
Normally on a Monday I would come back in after my coffee and begin to put this newsletter together, but this afternoon promises to be both a busy and a hot day – the high today is 97, and the rest of the week looks similar. I figured I should get a walk in while I could.
So I put on my headphones and my New Balance and hit the road. If you intend to be outside here and enjoy it, at this time of year you either do it before 10 AM or wait until the end of September.
This is my favorite time of year here, despite the heat. Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, daylilies, magnolias, gardenias – all in bloom. The neighbors’ yards did not disappoint on my walk, and the new book to which I was listening held my attention, and neighbors with more traditional jobs passed me as they headed into work and waved as they went, and as I walked up my driveway, I was very, very glad to be home.
Here are five things I thought were beautiful:
As this is a personal project (in that it is written by a person, and not a team or an algorithm), it is inevitable that bias will filter into my selection. Like, it is probably not coincidental that having just gotten back from the beach last week, I am drawn to this collection of color photos of beach bathers in Cannes in 1948. But I do love them – the vibrant colors, the sheer joy on their faces, and the sober realization that the subjects of these pictures of youth are now mostly dead, as even the children in them would be in their 80s.
Bias works in other ways, of course. Like, because I am interested in a thing – like birds – people send me links about those things. Like these bird broaches that are embroidered by hand, a link sent in by a reader. I am not in the market for a bird broach – for any sort of broach, to be honest – but these are exquisite and beautiful.
Two of the people who revolutionized public television in the US in the last century were Julia Child and Fred Rogers. Both icons in their field, it turns out that Child appeared on Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood once, where she made “Spaghetti Marco Polo”. I love this for many reasons, especially the looks on Rogers’ face as he nearly loses control as Child brings her huge personality to bear.
Gratuitous dog content. You’re welcome.
Holy Crap! I’m writing a book, y’all.
The book is called Food is Love, and it’s a narrative cookbook, written around 18 meals and 40 recipes. It’s a celebration of beauty, community, and love, as seen around the table.
Members will get a chapter a week in their inbox as I finish writing it, and then will then get a print copy for free when it’s done as my way of saying thanks. Then the whole book will be for sale to the general public on Black Friday in the usual online bookstores. Find out more about the book, and about how to be part of the membership team here in order to get the weekly chapters in your inbox and a free print copy when it’s published this fall.