"Each tree a single leaf, half hair-fine skeleton, half gauze and green, let the first suspicious wind through its old, pressed shape, its summertime branches. the air came smelling of what it was, the end of September." — Eudora Welty, "The Wanderers"
The western sky last night.

Good morning!

I am Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is So Beautiful, a newsletter about finding the beautiful when it's hard to - and maybe especially when it's hard to.

It’s fall now, at least by the calendar. Living in the Deep South means the calendar and the climate do not always match up – I have worn shorts to Thanksgiving dinner more often than not – but this past week, it has. We had nights down in the 50’s and days in the 70’s and it has been glorious.

250 years ago, the single most important thing in the average person’s life was the movement of time. If you did not plant at the right time, your family would starve. If you did not harvest at the right time, your family would starve. If you did not store wood at the right time, your family would freeze.  These days, we are largely insulated from that. We have electricity to make us comfortable, we have stores to provide us food, we have regular paychecks to provide us resources.

But all of that genetic memory is still there.  As I wrote about a few weeks ago, fall has traditionally been a time of anxiety for me, as the approaching winter often spelt bad news for people I cared about, and the work I did. As someone who worked on the frontlines of homelessness and addiction, winter meant death.

But as I have transitioned out of that sort of front line work, I am trying to get back in touch with my body, to let myself feel and move seasonally, to ebb and flow with the calendar, to lie dormant at times and at other times to burst forth with new growth.

This is, as you might imagine, not easy for someone with my particular sort of brain. But, I think it’s worth it.

Five Beautiful Things

  • I love this, both the music and the animation to Tenderly, by Roland Tempelaar. It’s so… soothing.
  • I have linked over the years to many ephemeral art projects by Christo – but this is his last project: the covering of the Arc de Triomphe in shimmering cloth for 16 days. Christo began planning this in 2017 but the pandemic delayed it’s start, and then he died. But his wishes were carried out anyway.
  • Cumbre Vieja, a volcano in the Canary Islands, erupted earlier this month, destroying 100 homes and disrupting the lives of thousands. A thing can be horrible and beautiful both, as these pictures bear out.
  • These (very cool) giant straw sculptures of enormous tarantulas, eagles, and dinosaur-like creatures are part of the Wara Art Festival in Japan.
  • An excellent story (with awesome photos!) of how the Greeks buried their antiquities back in the ground in order to hide them from the Nazis.


As I mentioned last week, I am now blogging regularly at my new blog, called Humidity and Hope. You should check it out and subscribe any and all of the normal ways, but rumor has it that email subscribers get extra stuff.

Worth Reading

This article - How to Get Things Done When You Don't Want to Do Anything - resonated with me. Maybe it will with you, too. 

Well, that is it for this week. I hope you have a great week, and that your life is filled with beautiful things. If you see something beautiful this week, I hope you will let me know about it, and if one of my five I shared today struck you in a special way, I hope you will let me know about that, too.

If you want to support this project, you can sign up to be a Patron or buy me a book or throw me some cash or, especially, forward this email to your friends. And if someone did forward this to you, you can get your own subscription here.

Take care of yourself. And each other. 

Hugh Hollowell Jr

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