Natalie Ogbourne

Regardless of what the thermometer reads today or tomorrow or next week, winter is winding down. I’ll just repeat that, mostly because I need the reassurance. Winter is winding down.

I need the reassurance because I believe something that isn’t true: Everything will last forever. Whether it’s the balmy breezes of a green spring that will be taken over by the thousand percent humidity of high summer or the crisp afternoons of a colorful autumn that will fade into the bone-brittling subzero temperatures of deep winter, every season eventually ends.

Late Winter Ice

Because I find hope and help in the cycle of the seasons, I try to mark them by taking  an account of the gifts that are easy–for me anyway–to take for granted. They are usually simple things that life would be considerably less comfortable, more difficult, or just plain flat without. Some things show up on list after list, while others come and go. It’s a practice of intentional gratitude that reminds me just how much in this life is simply grace.

  • Snow
  • Mountains
  • Lofty down
  • Eggs (See below)
  • High school actors
  • Childhood vacations
  • My husband. Our children.
  • Our parents. And grandparents.
  • Unexpected time: AKA snow days
  • Hot tea. Because, this winter. Wow.
  • Light: Candlelight, Fairy lights, Sunlight
  • Sources of heat: Wood. Propane.  Again, this winter. Wow.
  • High-mileage vehicles that still get us where we need to go

Practical Life Savers

Preparing to come home before I leave. I read once that children need to be reminded on Monday mornings of the routine that they did just fine with of the previous week. The weekend, apparently, throws off their groove. I realized recently that leaving the house overnight consistently throws of

f mine. As in, I return and have no idea what I used to cook for my family, how I organized my life, or that I used a  master list and file for every day of the week to keep my writing work going. A few days away and all of these habits disappear like smoke from the chimney of our wood burning stove.

So, before I took off for a week winter fun with my husband and our children, I bought the groceries for one of our favorite crock-pot meals so that I’d have food (an

d something to jog my memory with) when I returned. Mission accomplished. I haven’t settled back that quickly or successfully into the kitchen routine in years. Years. 

Eggs. Period. Whether fried and served on top of a bed of avocado on toast, poached for  Eggs Benedict using this easy hollandaise sauce, or whipped in a blender for this Chili Cheese Egg Puff, they’ve helped me get food on the table and kept my family happy in the process. (PSA: I omit the flour and cut both the butter and  the Monterrey Jack Cheese  in the egg puff by half because it tastes great that way and–wow–that’s a lot of cheese.)

Winter Favorites

Winter Gifts and Graces

This book: I know, I know. Bonhoeffer has been out for a really long time. It’s been on my bedside stand, waiting quite patiently, for over two years. But it’s time. It’s terrific. It’s thick but it moves fast. I recommend it

This teaGood Earth Sweet and Spicy tea comes as a black tea, an herbal tea, and even a good night tea. And it doesn’t have to be ordered online. They carry it at Wal-Mart.

Brownie Batter in a Mug:  Warm. Gooey. Sweet. Better than hot chocolate.

And you? What simple gifts and graces do you find in the landscape of your life as winter winds down? Is there some simple thing that is saving your life this season? Do you have a favorite you’d like to share?

As we walk from winter into spring, happy trails.