I found an odd confluence of nationally celebrated days this week that seemed absolutely apropos for our troubled moment. First, on the 10th we have National Kitten Day as well as the first of two separately designated but equally appealing days for perfectly suited summer cocktails, the Pina Colada. The stars align on the 11th when there is the opportunity to celebrate both Mojito Day and Cheer Up the Lonely Day. Given our current self-iso routines, “celebrate” doesn’t seem to be the right word, but providing comfort in a purring, furry joy bundle and/or a crisply shaken rum concoction seems fitting.
National Kitten Day was founded well before ubiquitous YouTube videos began stealing our hearts with the feline high jinx of Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat (respectively numbers 5 and 7 all-time most viewed). The purpose was to not only highlight the super-powered therapeutic properties of kitten-cuteness but also to remind us that there are thousands of the little heroes waiting to be rescued at your local shelter.
Similarly, the rum drink holidays (Mojito & Pina Colada) were established by certain advocates that hope you will support another worthy cause — the distilleries. Giving a kitten and/or a pitcher on a hot summer day to Cheer Up the Lonely someone sheltered in place seems a perfect remedy on all accounts. It’s a win-win-win proposition!
I personally prefer the momentary sugared succor of a lime-garnished pitcher over a lifelong commitment to a shedding, finicky thing that shits in a box and ignores me. Instead, maybe the best idea is to offer Ms/Mr. Lonely Hearts the gift of a great book. Books are incredibly calming and most importantly they do not shed. In regards to pitchers, books are also unlikely to destroy relationships and one’s vital organs. I recommend two titles that are far more life-affirming than petting a kitty or the temporary solace at the bottom of a glass.
Sou Fujimoto: Towards a Non-Intentional Space, Vol. 1. One of Japan’s most well known architects, Fujimoto grew up on Hokkaido affording him the opportunity from childhood to explore its picturesque mountains and forests. After attending the University of Tokyo and establishing his own practice he quickly became known for his airy buildings that were inspired by natural structures like the woodlands and caves so integral to his upbringing. Drawing inspiration from the organic, he developed a philosophy he would define as “Primitive Future.”
One of his most noted structures is the Mirrored Gardens, a village-inspired arts complex of platforms and cabins on the outskirts of Guangzhou, China. The book delves into the extensive research that inspired the project, covering Chinese garden and Japanese Zen garden disciplines as well as thoughts on permaculture and farming. Ironically, the philosophical discussion and accompanying photographs inspire us to jump off the couch and create a new future while letting us know that such resolve comes from quiet contemplation and isolation on that very couch.
The second book is not just pabulum, it’s a historic chronicle for the ages! Cats on shag carpets, on silk pillows or in front of bright colored backdrops! Whether you are a vintage photo lover or not, you can’t help but admire the work in The Cat Photographer by Walter Chandoha (Aperture). Chandoha was the master of 50’s stock photography but must be seen as prescient in the age of clickbait wars. Even if you are a dog person like me, you will be transfixed by the imagery. It’s human catnip!