Opening Up


Welcome to At Home and Away. For more than a year now, we’ve been At Home, an effort to help you live a full and cultured life during the pandemic. As more people get vaccinated and parts of the world open up, we’re opening up too. Too slowly for some and too quickly for others, we’re returning to restaurants, stores, movie theaters. We’re seeing and embracing friends and relatives. We’re thinking, for the first time in over a year, of travel. To varying degrees, we’re leaving home.

What does it mean to be At Home and Away? It means planning bucket-list trips before crowds return or taking in the digital artist Massimiliano Siccardi’s “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibition, in one of more than a dozen U.S. cities. It also means coming home to binge “Mare of Easttown,” starring Kate Winslet, or Bo Burnham’s new comedy special about mid-pandemic life. Even as we may be dreaming of checking out the star chef lineup at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, we might also be contending with summer seasonal affective disorder. Considering robot manicures and tending to our rain gardens. Attempting to find some balance between outside and inside.

Wendy Burt in St. Paul, Minn., is going swimming.

My 88-year-old dad died in November, so my sister and I have newfound time on the weekend, no longer needed for delivering groceries or food or checking on him. We are working our way through restaurants that have reopened. And I will resume open-water swimming in a Minneapolis lake. Open-water swimming washes away the stress. Not like exercise at all, but swimming of course is great exercise. It’s about a three-quarter-mile course — across the lake and back. You leave your iPhone on the beach. Yes, I said you leave your phone behind. I’ll do this three times a week for the summer. There is every body shape, every age. Some just there for exercise. Some training for triathlons. There’s no judgment, and everyone is happy.

Edward St. Aubyn, the author of the Patrick Melrose novels, has a new book, “Double Blind”: “an entertainment on scientific themes: brain-mapping, biochemistry, botany, immunotherapy, schizophrenia and the ethics of placebos (hence the book’s title), among other topics.”

Check out “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Percussion,” then head over to our Spotify playlist of “the varied, explosive, resonant sounds of instruments struck, shaken, pounded, scratched.”

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