Over the past few weeks time has taken on a different identity for us all in varying ways. It has felt both frantic and quiet and sometimes both in the same moment. Certainly, no matter what, we have been more reflective and thoughtful, and we at flora and henri felt there was no better time than now to start our bi-monthly 'recueiller' -- a gathering of things we are doing, reading, watching, making, listening to, thinking about. Here is our May 2020 edition!
In our opinion, there are few things in life as brilliant as a book. Some of our favorite, current reading recommendations are:
The Living by Annie Dillard
Pulitzer Prize-winner Dillard turns her hand to fiction with this historical novel of the American Northwest in the late 19th century. Focusing on the settlement at Whatcom on Bellingham Bay (near Puget Sound), Dillard offers a compelling portrait of frontier life. The novel has a large and richly varied cast of characters, from the engaging frontiersman Clare Fishburn and Eastern socialite-turned-pioneer Minta Honer to the disturbed and violent Beal Obenchain and kleptomaniac Pearl Sharp. The Living is unflinching in its delineations of pioneer life at its worst and best--racism and brutality on the one hand and optimism and charity in adversity on the other.
Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller
A master of time and memory, Alexandra Fuller (author of Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, one of Amy and Jane's absolute favorites reads) moves seamlessly between the days and months following her father’s death, as she and her mother return to his farm with his ashes and contend with his overwhelming absence, and her childhood spent running after him in southern and central Africa. Writing with reverent irreverence of the rollicking grand misadventures of her mother and father, bursting with pandemonium and tragedy, Fuller takes their insatiable appetite for life to heart. Here, in Fuller’s Africa, is a story of joy, resilience, and vitality, from one of our finest writers.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
The untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it's the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.
Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook the culture.
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders. We have also included his On Being conversation with Krista Tippett in our Podcast recommends.
No doubt everyone has been spending ample time in front of screens, but if you are in need of some beautiful storytelling, visual inspiration, or momentary escape, check out the programming below:
Unorthodox: Netflix series: A Hasidic Jewish woman in Brooklyn flees to Berlin from an arranged marriage and is taken in by a group of musicians — until her past comes calling.
My Brilliant Friend: Season 1 & 2 on HBO: based on the novels by Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend is an intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. A portrait of two women that is also the story of a nation, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between the unforgettable Elena and Lila.
Though the full streaming of Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf is no longer available, the trailer is a lovely respite and fascinating peek into Piet Oudolf's (garden designer of New York's High Line) process and vision.
‘Plants are characters I compose with and I put them on the stage,’ Piet Oudolf explains, ‘and Tom was able to bring these characters to life in perfect harmony, from Oudolf Field in Somerset, to Manhattan’s High Line gardens and desert wildflowers in West Texas. This documentary shows my working process and holistic approach to landscape design like never before. I hope that watching Tom’s film is restorative at this time, and an opportunity to enjoy nature as we observe the turning of seasons that surrounds us all.’
Bon Appetit: Gourmet Makes: In this creative series, Claire Saffitz attempts to recreate our favorite comfort foods in the BA Test kitchen. Chef Saffitz takes the necessary steps to turn your childhood snacks into culinary masterpieces.
While the Serpentine Gallery's buildings are closed, the Serpentine’s work continues. Collected on their site are some of the ways you can interact with their programs through online exhibitions, digital commissions, podcasts, special broadcasts and more.
If you are able to have some time enjoying your own head phones and head space, here are our recent Podcast loves:
Rich Roll speaks with Dr. Zach Bush for a fascinating and intelligent exploration in how we treat the planet and it's impact on human biology. What distinguishes Dr. Bush from his medical peers is his rigorous application of science, strength of humanity, and the intelligence of nature to his commitment to transforming our world.
In this On Being conversation from 2019 Ross Gay addresses how the ephemeral nature of our being allows him to find delight in all sorts of places (especially his community garden). To be with Gay is to train your gaze to see the wonderful alongside the terrible; to attend to and meditate on what you love, even in the midst of difficult realities and as part of working for justice.
So grateful for our friend Peter Miller's cookbook, Five Ways to Cook Asparagus. Made his White Bean Soup and The Chanterelles (page 145) last eve and it was beyond delish!
And finally, if you are in need of a ridiculously cute and hilarious distraction from our current world, get your daily dose of Chunk the Groundhog here: