Three Tips for Handling Pandemic Doldrums

By Melissa Knox-Raab

(1) Find a complete escape. Read a thriller or travel. I spent a week in the remotest area of France I could find, surrounded by roomfuls of art, books, cats and two very reclusive friends, who devote their lives to reading, painting, designing and sculpting. We took a single trip to a grocery store in heavy-duty masks, walked dogs in a setting reminiscent of Sherwood Forest, fed donkeys cauliflower greens, and ate five-course candlelit dinners consisting in a garlicky soup decorated with crème fraiche, a series of salads, a cheese course, and chocolate. Conversations ranged from mystics to revolution, in other words, topics normally outside my range.

(2) Write a poem a day. On anything. I suggest starting with an object. Five lines on one of the following: the way it looks, the way it sounds, the way it feels, the way it smells or the way it tastes.

(3) Cook a favorite (but very easy) meal. A delightful vegan recipe involves nothing more than olive oil, a few bell peppers, a few cloves of garlic, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Slice in two or three large pieces each pepper and remove seeds; peel garlic. Arrange in baking dish lightly greased with olive oil, with the garlic cloves tucked under the peppers. Insert in oven at highest setting until the peppers are black—charred. Remove and set on tile to cool; cover with aluminum foil if you like. When cool, peel off the charred skin and arrange in serving dish; add olive oil and sprigs of rosemary. Serve with fresh baguette and a glass of Prosecco or red wine.

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