Our Daily Breather was a daily series where we asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helped them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. The series concluded on June 13, 2020. Here, we've collected some of the stories about the creative hobbies and practices that artists have shared with us throughout the series.
Who: Courtney Marie Andrews
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Recommendation: Gardening and poetry
Courtney Marie Andrews has found solace in the creative aspects of gardening: "As a full-time touring musician, I have never had a big enough window between tours to plant and harvest a garden. Digging my over-washed hands into the soil is a beautiful juxtaposition to the over-sanitized world we are currently living in. Planting life, even if it's just a cucumber, is soul-fulfilling, given all we have lost over the past few months."
Who: Jimmy Webb
Where: New York City
Recommendation: Model airplanes
Jimmy Webb shared how the practice of making model airplanes has enlivened his late father's memory: "During these Orwellian days of forced confinement, I find consolation in building the old planes with my Dad, two years gone now, but still whispering in my ear: 'Easy does it' and, 'Measure twice, cut once' as the beautiful wood curls spring from the hand plane like living things. 'This too will pass,' he whispers. 'And then spring will come.'"
Who: Liza Anne
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Recommendation: Trying your hand at drawing
Liza Anne shared that having the time to slow down has helped her to focus on the details: "I had never drawn before this. I've always been quickly pulled out of any moment before gaining the appreciation yielded from the patient catalog of someone or something's details in a drawing. Drawing is among many things that take focused time to collect the details of the beheld — details that I so easily skip over when moving paced with life as we lived it. But now, there is a new pace with room enough for things to take time."
Who: Steve Reich
Where: Los Angeles, Calif.
Recommendation: Keep on working
Steve Reich has been keeping busy with the solitary act of writing a new piece from his winter getaway in Los Angeles: "I'm always working. This romantic idea that where you are affects what you write, I find that to be completely not the case. And so in this period of time I've been working on what I was working on before I got here: a piece called Traveler's Prayer, which is a piece for four voices, two tenors and two sopranos; eight strings, two string quartets; and one piano and two vibes."
Who: NPR Music Intern Emma Bowers
Where: Burlington, Vt.
Emma Bowers described how the practice of quilting has helped her to find comfort and a sense of optimism: "The world feels like it's in pieces, not nearly as beautiful or benign as the squares of orange and cream calico strewn around my room, but I imagine the world would almost certainly benefit from the care of a gentle and sure hand, whole-heartedly devoted to making something beautiful, long-lasting, comforting and new out of what remains."