Comfort food for the soul

A week has passed since the governor issued a “shelter in place” order for Blaine County and I can’t say things are improving.

But even as storm clouds gather, Wood River residents have taken every opportunity to show their true colors, most of which are shades of altruism and hopeful optimism.

Fundraisers have been emerging to assist those experiencing financial difficulties. Hundreds of Ketchum residents joined in song on Wednesday night. Neighbors are helping each other in every way they can.

For all the bad news, there is plenty of good news. As Louisa May Alcott wrote in “Little Women,” “Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

Even behind closed doors and in isolation, there are things we can do to help each other and ourselves. Remember these wise words from Audrey Hepburn: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

As long as everyone keeps that in mind, we should be fine. First thing’s first: here are some guaranteed recommendations for keeping your spirits high.

Reading: “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Goodness me that is a mouthful of a title. I’m going to abbreviate it.

Told in the form of letters, TGLAPPPS sets its delightful sights on the channel island of Guernsey in the aftermath of World War II.

In 1946, English author Juliet Ashton receives a letter out of the blue from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, a small British island occupied by the Nazis during the war. Dawsey has, completely by chance, come into possession of a book Juliet once owned, with her name and address written inside.

Spurred by a mutual love for reading, the pair begins sending letters back and forth, and Juliet soon becomes immersed in the lives of the people of Guernsey and their stories of resilience and community under German occupation.

It is a truly uplifting read, and speaks to the power of helping each other during difficult times. Plus, correspondence is a wonderful thing. Consider reaching out to a friend or family member.

TGLAPPPS is available in eBook and eAudio edition from The Community Library. It was also adapted into a pretty good Netflix movie starring the innately loveable Lily James.

Viewing: “Charade”

The truest, most foolproof tonic for the soul is any movie starring Audrey Hepburn (except “Wait Until Dark,” which is terrifying…and “The Children’s Hour,” which is very, very sad, and also not “War and Peace,” for obvious reasons).

“Roman Holiday,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “How to Steal a Million,” “Sabrina”—all guaranteed to improve one’s mood. A personal favorite of mine has always been “Charade.”

Hepburn stars alongside Cary Grant in one of the all-time greatest whodunnits ever made. Genuine thrills and chills are complemented by some laugh-out-loud witticisms and a rapid-fire script with more twists than a “Mission: Impossible” movie.

And as for the stars, well, Hollywood just doesn’t make ‘em like that anymore.

“Charade” is currently available for streaming on Kanopy, accessible with a free Community Library account.

Listening: Anything by Mark Knopfler

If there is a musical equivalent to reading a great book, it is listening to any song by Mark Knopfler. He is widely and rightly regarded as one of the most accomplished guitarists in the world, but I have to also consider him an unmatched lyricist.

A good place to start may be “Telegraph Road” from his Dire Straits years. That song and “Brothers in Arms” foreshadow Knopfler’s solo career, which is steeped in incredible perspective, excellent guitar riffs and brilliant lyrics.

Consider looking into the album “Golden Heart,” or perhaps “Sailing to Philadelphia.” Or “The Ragpicker’s Dream,” “Kill to Get Crimson,” “Down the Road Wherever.” Heck, it’s all good. There’s no going wrong with Mark Knopfler.

Maybe check out “Why Worry.” As he says in that song, “There should be laughter after pain / There should be sunshine after rain / These things have always been the same / So why worry?”

For the Kids: Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems

You know those pigeon books? “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late,” etc. Also, “Elephant and Piggie: We are in a Book.”

They are best-selling, award-winning and beloved picture books by Mo Willems, popular with children the world over. Well, now that many children have been forced in doors, Willems has partnered with The Kennedy Center for a daily series of free online art classes for children.

Every day at 1 p.m., EST, Willems livestreams his Lunch Doodles. They’re 20-minute, child-friendly, fun drawing lessons from a professional and widely loved children’s author. For free. It’s hard to beat that.

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