Finding Comfort in the In-Between Season

Our usual routines are disrupted.

By Melissa Kirsch

Welcome. It’s been rainy in New York, humid, and in-between feeling. It’s the time that the travel industry calls “shoulder season” in this part of the world, a time of transition, technically fall but still sometimes summery. On the verge of holiday season, but we might still be reading books we started in August.

It’s the time of year when you commit to coziness, turn the lights on during the day and brew a whole pot of tea, maybe take your laptop to the couch, a blanket nest. Mid-afternoon, you’re shaken from your winter cosplay when the skies clear, the sun reasserts its relevance, almost obnoxiously illuminating each mote of dust in this indoor-cat tableau. Shoes on, get outside while you can.

It can do a number on your mood, if you weren’t already a little up and down, this noncommittal, sandwich season. Our usual rhythms are disrupted, our dependable routines scotched. I’ve been saving up bits of delight, scraps of songs, articles, recipes that I can turn to when disequilibrium sets in.

This opinion piece, “Your Work Friends Knew Exactly What Kind of Week You’d Had,” reminded me of how essential the “weak ties” our work relationships provide are to our happiness.

I’m scoring my work and walks with “Serpentine Prison,” the recent album from Matt Berninger. Watching this delirious collaborative TikTok musical that takes place in a grocery store. I’m reading favorite old books of poems, like “The Book of Nightmares” by Galway Kinnell and appreciating this thread that argues “a corgi crossed with any other breed just ends up looking like a corgi disguised as the other dog.” These small comforts help stabilize, relieve some of the strangeness in the changing season.

Tell us

What’s lifting your mood lately? Tell us: [email protected] We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. And, as always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life at home appear below.

How to deal

Want to attract more species of birds to your yard? We’ll help you create the ideal conditions.

New research shows that blood pressure levels that we’ve generally considered “normal” may be high enough to foster the development of artherosclerotic heart disease. Jane E. Brody took a look at the latest study.

And if you’re trying to begin a mindfulness practice, why not start with a silent breakfast?

What to eat

After countless tests, the British pastry chef Ravneet Gill has landed on what she believes is the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe. Do you agree?

Melissa Clark was missing her favorite Australian sausage roll from Bourke Street Bakery in Manhattan. So she called up the chef, Paul Allam, and got the recipe. The result? Three variations on the classic from Down Under: lamb, pork, and mushroom.

And if the same old bottles are getting you down after months spent largely at home, Eric Asimov has 20 wines for under $20 that will help you escape a rut.

How to pass the time

Check out the artist Vik Muniz’s collages of the world’s most famous places, made of postcards snipped into little pieces.

Take a road trip with the Hotdoggers driving the Oscar Mayer Weinermobiles across the United States during the pandemic, and see how “the rolling pantheon of lunch meat” continues to bring joy and brand awareness to people’s lives.

And see why, on the occasion of his first record with the E Street Band in six years, Bruce Springsteen says, “I’m at a point in my playing life and artistic life where I’ve never felt as vital.”

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