1) Seven Meyer lemons from my own little tree, now two years old. (The seventh one is still a little green at the tip, so I’m leaving it on there till the last minute. I think I’m going to use them to make the preserved lemons in Tart and Sweet.) Few things feel better than to come in from a toe-numbing, twenty-nine-degree, wind-whipped-tear-inducing, but exhilarating bike ride on the speedy Signor Bianchi and come into my warm kitchen and set out bread to rise and put my face close to these lemons and breathe, deeply, their subtle flowery perfume.
2) A pile of old but still warm wool blankets salvaged from my grandmother’s linen closet, now heaped on my own bed and warmed still further by a large surface area’s worth of cat. On a chilly winter’s night, when the heater is turned down low, he settles between my feet and purrs, sending a deep soothing thrum down into my tired bones.
3) This song I can’t stop listening to, and smiling.
4) Birds. The flutter of a flock of juncoes out of the seedheady thicket at the edge of a cornfield. A rustle in the brush next to the bike trail followed by the whish whish of wings as a young turkey hen gets up and flies away. Then the WHUPwhupwhup wingbeats of the big gobbler who’d been browsing near her, feathers puffed, beard dangling, as he panics and flies away. They soar low over the grass, on over the hill, as I stop where I am and watch.
5) Birds as prayer. A bald eagle’s white head: a distant dot over a pebbly streambed. Eagles must be your spirit animal, a minister friend always says to me, only half-jokingly. I always seem to see an eagle when I am in a time of taking risks, of needing prayer and courage. And when I see an eagle, I feel something telling me keep on going, be brave, be kind. We are watching.
6) Drinking wine and laughing with my friends, so hard we get hiccups and our eyes start to water. Private jokes and smiles and memories. Friends are always a gift. Always.
7) Fresh bread just out of the oven, relaxing as it crackles and sings. Outside, the night is very cold.
There is always a way to come home and get warm, and always a way to be thankful for that.