🌸 It's time to soak up spring 🌸
This is not the time of year to text as you walk. Slide your phone into a pocket. Check the sidewalk for perilous cracks, then look up at the tips of tree branches. Do you see the first signs of spring?
After months of dead leaves and bare branches, daffodils and magnolias are undeniable proof that summer is coming. But first, we have to get through April. I always seem forget the sheer audacity of tulips, popping up outside apartment buildings and restaurant window boxes before any other greenery dares to appear. Still, their existence is inevitable. The days are getting longer. The birds are getting louder. Even Walter, my friend’s corgi, is shedding his heavy winter fur coat.
Daylight Savings has hit, and every walk is an opportunity to spot new signs of botanical life. I’ve grown to call this budwatch. The reality is that the season of inhaling strawberries and going outside without a jacket is still a month away, at least on the East Coast. But being on the precipice of seasonal shift has its own rewards: witnessing nature up close. This week on Amateur Hours, it’s time to soak up spring. Here’s how I do it.
Pick a route
If you live in a city like me, head somewhere with guaranteed greenery. Think: Parks, garden-filled residential neighborhoods, or even office buildings with a designated tulips budget. (New York City’s parks & rec department apparently plants 110,000 tulips across the city each year, which I love). Pay attention to where the sun naturally falls. The trees on the other side of my street get more light, and therefore begin to bloom a full month early.
The real secret to budwatch is repetition. How does a tree change over the course of a month? Repeat your walk to notice the progress. The biggest differences will happen over time, but as April heats up, I swear I can notice the difference a day makes.
Set the soundtrack
Maybe you want to walk in silence to keep your ears out for bird calls. Maybe you want to dance down the sidewalk to something shimmery and hopeful. Let me help you with that:
One good botany resource:
Want to identify all the beautiful flowers you see on the walk? I’m using the iNaturalist app, developed by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, to learn the names of all the flowers in my neighborhood. Just upload a picture and let the data do the rest.
Four good park reads:
A new season needs new books. Here are some of my recent favorites to pack in a tote bag.
Love In The Big City by Sang Young Park. The first novel translated into English from this acclaimed young South Korean novelist is easily my favorite thing I’ve read in months. The tender, funny book focuses on a young gay man in Seoul and the loves (maternal, platonic, romantic) that defined his life in luminous prose.
RIYL: Kylie Minogue, laughing while crying, queer love.
Fledgeling by Octavia Butler
Blame Twilight, but I honestly forgot vampires were supposed to be sexy until I read Butler’s iconic final book. Her story of a Black vampire—the first of her kind—touches on race, gender, polyamory, and mutual dependence without the slightest bit of Transylvanian cringe. Issa Rae and J. J. Abrams are producing a pilot for HBO, so read this now!
RIYL: Only Lovers Left Alive, nontraditional family structures, bicuspids.
In The Distance by Hernan Diaz
On one level, this book is about a young Swedish boy separated from his brother en route to America, who treks through the Gold Rush-era West to reunite in New York. But it’s also about solitude and identity, a dangerous beauty of a wilderness novel that makes the genre feel completely fresh.
RIYL: Rugged individualism, Hatchet, lighting a fire from scratch.
Milk Fed by Melissa Broder
Rachel is a depressed aspiring comedian with a shitty agency job and an eating disorder. Miriam is a zaftig Orthodox Jewish frozen yogurt scooper intent on feeding her. Their love story is darkly funny, intense, and compulsively readable (with some potentially triggering language).
RIYL: Disobedience, golems, long calls with friends, full-fat love.
The Martini Hype Train Has Arrived at Bars Across the Country. Who’s Driving It? (VinePair). I had a lot of fun writing about how the classic cocktail renaissance is ushering in deliciously untraditional variations spiked with tomatoes, Datu Puti vinegar, and MSG.
What Every Guy Needs to Know About the Scary State of Abortion Access Right Now (GQ). My editor asked me to write about the many abortion bans sweeping the country in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision gutting Roe v. Wade. Here's what to know—and how to fight back.
Lastly, my upcoming zine Sexy Cake is almost here! Sign up to get information on pre-ordering, the launch party, and much more.