Welcome. Yesterday I received a parcel in the mail containing a four-pound bag of deluxe birdseed. No receipt, no note, a plain brown box containing only a sack of sunflower-and-safflower mix. I thought it must have originated with my friend Kate Wong, a science writer who’s recently taken up bird-watching. I thrill to her Instagram, where she chronicles her new at-home hobby, a hobby that finds meaning and delight in the changing seasons, in nine months and counting of limited human contact. But Kate didn’t send it.
Receiving a box of birdseed of unknown provenance has made me think not only that I should get a bird feeder to house it (and surely attract rock doves and other Brooklyn species), but also of the promise of spring even as winter in the northeast seems intent on announcing its arrival, the thermometer hardly peeking over 40 this week, another reason we feel safest at home.
Still, the garden columnist Margaret Roach announced in her most recent column that the 2021 garden season “officially begins this month,” with the arrival of next year’s seed catalogs. More than one person has reminded me this week that the winter solstice is just two weeks away, after which each day gets a tiny bit longer. I like to think that after Dec. 21, we are officially on our way out of, rather than into, the woods.
Until then, we’re inside mostly when we can be, with holiday movies, holiday cooking, holiday theater, holiday cards designed by artists filling out the hours. We’re wearing our hangaround bangarounds, cozy clothes that function as workwear, leisure wear and even exercise clothes with some strategically repositioned accessories. Here’s what some At Home readers told us they’re wearing around the house.
“A modest top and my unseen bike shorts. Already wearing exercise clothes represents an 80 percent commitment to exercise when the Zooming is over.”
“At 78 and a half, I grew up and worked at a time when the popular adage was ‘clothes make the man.’ As a (rare) corporate woman in those days it applied to us as well. Fast-forward to today when it seems as if women have adopted underwear for work life — tights were something my generation wore under skirts and boots — I have no idea what is appropriate daily wear. But then who cares? I do. I wear chinos and shirts or turtlenecks and sweaters and blazers. And I wear saddle oxfords (yes they still make them, only better). I Zoom a lot with friends and family and charities and I am fully clothed because it makes me feel alive and connected and solid and serious and focused. “
“I’m currently wearing a blanket as a skirt.”
“It all started one day when I stole my wife’s yoga pants when all of my sweatpants were in the laundry. I tried them on and was hooked. I never looked back. They are more comfortable and feel nicer than sweatpants. I am in an office job and have Zoom meetings all day long so I usually wear them with a button-down shirt.”
“I’m a senior in high school and we are doing 100 percent virtual learning. Most kids in my classes now just turn off their cameras and lay in bed during classes. When I’m in classes or club meetings when I absolutely HAVE to show my face, I wear cozy pants and a nice sweater, but I sometimes wear pajamas!”
“I make a point to always dress business casual. Otherwise, I tend to slack off. I also require my child to wear non-pajama clothing if she is remote. It’s the only way we can distinguish between being at school or work and lounging in the house.”
I’ll keep you posted as I sleuth out where the birdseed came from. It’s unlikely that a crafty and hopeful pigeon who reads this newsletter got his claws on an Amazon account and credit card, but, hey, it’s a year of unprecedented firsts, right?
If you like a real-life mystery, don’t miss this article in Outside about a man who solved a decade-long treasure hunt only to find himself the target of a lawsuit. (It reminded me of one of my favorite books from childhood, Kit Williams’s “Masquerade,” which also spawned a competitive hunt for buried booty.) Or stream “I Will Be Murdered,” a documentary about the Guatemalan lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg, who predicted his own death in 2009. (The story was the subject of a phenomenal New Yorker piece by David Grann, in 2011).
Something on your mind? An unsolved mystery you need help cracking? Write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for leading a good life at home and near it appear below.