the shape of a year
and a book to win

booksIt’s snowing again, for the third time in a week. In New England, and certainly here in our part of New Hampshire, it’s a season of enforced respite from the comings and goings of our busy everyday lives. We can fight the weather (not much of a contest there!), or we can embrace the challenge of an uncompromising northern winter, layering on fleeces and wool socks, planning ahead, slowing down. I choose to acquiesce to this season of storms, keeping more food in the refrigerator, making pots of soup and chili that last for days, shopping less, driving less, snowshoeing more, writing more, reading more, gazing out the window more.

IMG_2045This morning, it’s pretty wild outside — a bitter, relentless wind drives vast, swirling curtains of powder across the meadow and sends silent clumps of snow crashing from tree limbs. With the temperature dropping steadily and the snow already hip deep, it would be easy to view yet another four or six or sixteen inches of snow as an annoying inconvenience. But I’m seeing this latest storm as a muffled blessing, an invitation to stay put today—no place to go and nothing to do, at least until the roads are cleared.

Looking up from my stool in the kitchen, I spot the empty bird feeder swinging in the wind and a sturdy cardinal, all puffed up and hunkered down in a nearby snowdrift, bright as a jewel against the blanket of white, patiently waiting for his breakfast. We all need to eat.

cardinalI slip on Steve’s tall black boots to trudge out and fill the birdfeeder, scattering some extra nibbles along the top of the snow-covered stonewall — a sunflower seed buffet for the squirrels and the jays. A pair of chickadees arrives before I’m even back to the door, the two of them too hungry to be shy. I stand there quietly for a moment, close as I dare, to watch them take turns plucking seeds from between the wires. But my fingers are already numb with cold. I’ll skip the long walk today.

IMG_2034Back inside my cozy kitchen, second cup of coffee in hand, I pick up my book.

More and more these days, I want to close my computer, silence my phone, and steep in the silence. And yet, being quiet in both body and soul can be a challenge – especially given the countless distractions, obligations, needs, and desires that tug at the coat sleeves of my attention each day.

And so, I’ve been giving myself this small gift of time, a few minutes of uninterrupted reading before the work of the day begins. I have a stack of new books waiting on the bedside table and I’m nearly done with Anne Lamott’s wise and funny essay collection, Small Victories. But in the silent expansiveness of these winter mornings, as I set a tone for my day, I’m drawn not to the latest literary releases on my shelf or to the novel half-read on my iPad, but to a modest, gently worn, long out-of-print memoir called The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey.

I have a special place my heart for such chronicles of daily life as it was once lived by women who have long since left this earth. (May Sarton’s Plant Dreaming Deep is perhaps my favorite, but there are others, too, memoirs by Louise Dickinson Rich, Elizabeth CoatsworthFlorida Scott Maxwell, Gladys Taber, and Madeleine L’Engle.) These graceful, unaffected writers feel like soul friends to me, kindred spirits who are still alive on the page, their own ordinary days eternally vivid and fresh simply because they took the time to notice, to watch, to reflect, and to write things down.

In a world that’s constantly urging me – all of us — on to the next new thing, these quiet, by-gone voices are rarely heard. Yet there’s a certain pleasure to be found in turning back instead of pressing forward, and in discovering the worth and beauty in a book that’s old, unknown, unsung, unavailable on any book seller’s front table. (Maybe I also like the idea of some yet-to-be-born woman sitting at her kitchen table on a winter’s morning fifty years from now, reading a time-worn copy of The Gift of an Ordinary Day, and feeling a stirring of kinship with its long-gone author.)

And so it is that this is humble lineage feels precious to me, a reminder that throughout the ages we humans have expressed our love for the world by noticing it. No matter what century or country we inhabit, we learn, each of us in our own way and our own time, to nourish our souls by attentiveness.

It’s true that our mortal lives are fleeting. We don’t last, but the words we commit to the page do. Ten years ago, when my husband and I bought the old summer cottage that became our first home in New Hampshire, The Shape of a Year was one of many forgotten volumes left behind in the bookshelves here. Although the cottage itself eventually had to come down, I couldn’t part with all those dear, dusty, old books — relics of other lives, other summers, other readers who must have whiled away August afternoons on the screened porch that would soon exist in memory only. I packed the books away before the wreckers came.

Much later, when our new house was finally built on the site of the old, I put a few of them back on my shelves, with a sense that I was honoring the past by inviting these abandoned volumes to reside with us in the present. Recently, while searching for some other memoir, I found myself pausing with Jean Hersey’s book open in my hands. It was a January afternoon in the year 2015. And, too, it was January 1967. Another time, another woman, another life.

Quiet and smooth, fresh and untouched, the new snow lies across our meadow. Its pristine surface catches the sunlight, and tree shadows stretch like great blue pencils over the unbroken white. The snow folds gently over rocks and hummocks half concealing, half revealing a variety of different shapes.

So lies our year ahead, its basic ingredients sun and shadow and suggested shapes of things to come. I wonder what we will do with this year, what it will do with us, and what together we and life will create during the twelve months ahead.”

The words captured my attention, as if I were being summoned to stop what I was doing and allow time to fold in upon itself. And what I discovered, reading on, was something entrancing and lasting between the faded covers: an intimate record of a singular life well lived. A deep awareness of what matters and of what endures — the pulse of nature, our human yearning for connection, the turning of the seasons, the patterns beneath the surface of daily life, the unadorned beauty of simple prose.

illusOn this blustery February morning, with our own birds well supplied with seed, I accompany my new friend into her long-ago February observations. These winter mornings, she writes, “are like opals, soft, milky white and pink around the edges.” Yes. I know those colors, too. Across the span of years, a hand extends for mine. I take it, and read on:

It’s a joy to feed the birds during the winter. In a blizzard we are literally a lifeline to these lovely creatures. You get to know the different kinds and sometimes certain birds themselves. One particular chickadee is my friend. Each day I’m especially pleased when he comes for his sunflower seed. He perches near me while I scatter food.”

And with that, our bond today is secured – she’s watching her birds as I look out for mine. Not much happens in The Shape of a Year, beyond one woman’s close observations of the world as she finds it. The world I live in today is much changed from Jean Hersey’s world of 1967, but the things that matter remain the same: compassion, love, nature’s eternal rhythms, shared laughter, a sense of wonder. My new friend writes about the very things I notice.

The scent of February: “February air has a flavor all its own. It is not only crisp and cold and tingles in your nose when you go walking, but something more. We hear a lot about spring air, summer air, and that of autumn. But do pause briefly and appreciate the air that nature sends us in midwinter.”

A full moon on snow: “It was beautiful outside. Shadows cast by moonlight weave their own magic spell. Moonlight was streaming over the garden where seeds will sprout and grow, where vegetables will nourish and fragrant flowers bloom. It seemed to me as I stood looking out that many of the things we get all stirred up about have less value in the overall pattern than the sight of a full moon shining down on a sleeping garden, or tangled up in the bare branches of a maple tree along a stone wall.”

The awkwardness of change: “A restlessness in our bones responds to the wild restless winds of the month. The wind in January awakens a kind of strength. February storms rouse our spirits and hearten our defenses. But a tearing March wind howls through us exposing lonely and unfamiliar areas. We are not at home with the strange impulses and wild, undisciplined thoughts that go blowing through our minds and emotions. Some days, confidence shrinks to the size of a pea, the backbone feels like a feather. We want to be somewhere else, and don’t know where; we want to be someone else and don’t know who.”

Time marches on, the details and demands of our daily lives evolve, the laptop I’m typing on bears little resemblance to the typewriter that I imagine must have sat upon Jean Hersey’s desk. And yet, the inner life, the quiet work of seeing deeply into the nature of things, the familiar duties that accompany each hour of a writer’s day and each change of season – these things are a constant thread, connecting us. We water plants, mix pancake batter for breakfast, wrestle with a paragraph till the words are just right to the ear, relish an evening spent alone reading in bed. If we lived next door to each other, we would be friends. Instead, for a few minutes each morning, we share a silent conversation, a kinship that transcends time and space.

And it occurs to me that what draws me to this thoughtful, introspective woman, and to her unassuming record of a long-ago year, is something as simple and as challenging as this: a mutual if unspoken yearning to heed Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life. “Pay attention, be astonished, tell about it.”

enter to win your own copy

I have located one gently used but perfectly lovely copy of Jean Hersey’s special book to share with you. To enter to win The Shape of a Year, leave a comment in the comments section below. I’d especially love to hear if there’s an old or little-known book that holds a special place in your heart. Or, you can share a glimpse of your winter days. Or just say, “Count me in.” I’ll choose a winner, selected at random from all the comments, after midnight on February 14.  As always, I love hearing from you. (note: book titles are affiliate links)

for my reflections & inspiration

your comments

  1. Shelly Gilliland says:

    I’d love to have this book! I have many treasured books and Sunlight on My Shadow by Judy Liautaud is very special to me.

  2. It’s been said that a cardinal is a spirit who has moved on come to visit you, keep an eye on your comings and goings. I often spy them in a bush at the end of my driveway… Always wondering who is keeping an eye on me.

  3. I am especially fond of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s knitting books.

  4. Laurie Butler says:

    count me in

  5. Deb Charlebois says:

    I do love the idea of cross-generational and intertwined appreciation of the “little, ordinary things”. From my home office, my favorite sight as I log onto work every morning is the same group of 3 women, probably 25+ years my senior, taking their every morning walk. They persist in the cold, winter months – bundled up, slower, more cautious, but still animated and clearly enjoying their routine time together.

  6. Barbara McNicholas says:

    Your description of The Shape of A Year is reminiscent of my 6th grade (circe 1968!?) experience of the teacher’s snack time reading of Jean George’s My Side of the Mountain.
    An appreciation of nature and all that it holds, especially in the slow-me-down New England winter months.

    Thank you for this posting Katrina, and count me in!

  7. My grandma gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was little and it looks worn and vintage… I just love it. I have fb messaged you explaining this but I am a young(ish) mom with a 5 year old and a newborn baby and I have read all of your books and loved them.

  8. Grace Sapienza says:

    “Count me in!”

  9. Kate Steinmetz says:

    count me in!

  10. Kirsten Nilsen says:

    Well….I can’t pick a single old book because there are so many that are precious to me, inherited from my own grandparents’ New Hampshire lake cottage. I spent so many happy hours as a kid reading her books, and it is definitely from my grandmother that I inherited my love of still quiet moments in nature, and my love of May Sarton, Madeline L’Engle, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

  11. I love your descriptions of the winter outside. When there is complaining around me, I still think this northeast Ohio winter is a wonderland. I would really enjoy receiving this book.

  12. My winter days are much different now–living in sunny Colorado–than they were during my childhood, in Wisconsin. Today I carried my six-week-old baby on my chest, wrapped tightly to me, and we strolled behind my three year old son, who rode his little green balance bike feverishly through puddles and melting snow. Winter yesterday, spring today, snow again eventually, I’m certain. Over and over again, these are my winter days now, and they are the best ones yet.

  13. I love so many books that it’s hard to pick just one. Edith Schaeffer’s books have all mentored and inspired me. Her The Hidden Art of Homemaking inspired me as a young college student to make my someday home a place of creativity and beauty.

  14. lisa mcallister says:

    Count me in! 🙂 I’m actually entranced right now with your wonderful story ‘the gift of an ordinary day’! It echoes my life right now in an eerily strange way…you have written so beautifully onto paper the words that my heart has been trying to explain. It’s quite strange to read someone else’s life and have it mirror so closely to my own…..but so reassuring at the same time! Thank you so very much for writing this treasure!! 🙂
    (I have 3 boys- twin 15 yr olds & 11 yr old- just to give you a glimpse of my world!)

  15. Doreen Felde says:

    The Prophet

  16. I love your writing! Your words about the snow reminded me of the children’s book, “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen. Even though that is very different than what you were writing about, I was reminded of the story about taking a walk in the cold winter’s night, to see an owl. Like you, I also enjoy books like you described. I have not read Gladys Tabor–hope I am spelling correctly–but I would like to find one. I follow artist and cookbook author Susan Branch. She talks about Gladys a lot. If you are not familiar with Susan, look her up. I think you would share similar interests. I enjoy Anne Lamott also, as a modern, honest and real author. Tasha Tudor I also enjoy. Some of the fictional writers from longer ago are also refreshing–D.E. Stevenson comes to mind. I would enjoy reading the book you wrote about. Thanks for sharing the gift of your words. Love seeing your posts, when they come to my mailbox.

  17. Diane J Wulf says:

    I would love to add The Shape of a Year to my family. I have so many “old friends” on my book shelves. As a child I loved the Betsy-Tacy Stories by Maud Hart Lovelace and of course, LM Montgomery’s Anne Shirley. As an adult, I enjoy reading LuAnn Rice’s books about Cape Cod and the oceanside. Robert Frost has also been a favorite of mine.
    I am pleased that my boys are also avid readers…as children and now, as adults. A special favorite of theirs was Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown.

  18. I love gift from the sea by Anne morrow Lindbergh. I also love your books. These types of books are soothing for the soul. I would love to read this little treasure as well!

  19. I love that you tracked down a copy of this book, what a treat for whoever wins. Here in Colorado we’ve had a few small, recent snows, but now temps are in the high 60s. Perfect for playing outside with my son and the 1st graders I teach, but less helpful for slowing down and settling in. I’m hoping we get at least one big snow that takes our frantic pace down a notch. We shall see…

  20. Josie Lombardi says:

    Count me in. I love reading about your on-going journey. You paint such pretty pictures with your words. I love so many authors but am particularly fond of “The Prophet” by Kahlill Gibran…so much wisdom, such down to earth truths. I would love to win a copy but as the Prophet says it is you who are blessed for “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward”. Thank you for this opportunity.

  21. Loved The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Touched on so many emotions. Count me in, I would be honored to receive this gift from you. Sounds like a wonderful book, and a great read for these cold, snowy days.

  22. Gift From the Sea

  23. Denise Veggerby says:

    I am so happy when I look in my “in-box” and see an email from you! I love L.M. Montgomery’s book” “The Story Girl” One of my all time favorites. Thank you so much for your beautiful writing. Denise

  24. In the spirit of acute observations of nature from years ago that echoes across the decades, I cherish Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, first published in 1928 about “a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach…written in long-hand on the kitchen table of a little room with windows overlooking the North Atlantic and the dunes.” My paperback copy from its eighth printing in 1967 has the price marked $1.45! It is a treasure, and especially beloved after a recent reminiscing visit to Nantucket, the place of my childhood summers.

  25. Madre Julie says:

    Count me in too please and thank you.

  26. Oh, I love this…I surround myself with books for comfort and security and memories. Books that belonged to my great grandparents mingle with books from my childhood, from college, books that got me through young motherhood, volumes of children’s favorites and, of course, yours and Anne Lamott’s!

  27. Thank you for this. Nice to know of others who are kindred spirits!

  28. I love memoirs written by wise, wonderful women.

  29. Linda Redd says:

    I have loved reading books by Rosamunde Pilcher, like the Shellseekers. Also, A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg was a great story. My childhood favourites were Cherry Ames nurse stories and as a young mother I discovered The Secret Garden and The Story of Holly and Ivy.

  30. Count me in, please. I love the beauty in the ordinary. It grounds me and comforts me like nothing else. I would say Gift From the Sea would be one of my cherished books.

  31. Christine Hairstone says:

    Count me in

  32. Pamela Soto says:

    I adore each word of this blog post, thank you. I am experiencing much the same winter as you here in Massachusetts! I would cherish a copy of The Shape of a Year.

  33. Count me in. Thank you-

  34. This book sounds like a perfect accompaniment to these cold and snowy days we’ve been having in New Hampshire. I love what she wrote about The Scent of February…winter is definitely a season overlooked when describing the scent of air! Count me in!

  35. I’ve only just discovered ‘Magical Journey’ (and its two predecessors) and have been entranced and challenged by all three as I read them in the space of 10 days! As a child growing up in the UK I loved the ‘Anne’ books by L. M. Montgomery as well as a variety of British authors. Over the last few years I have discovered your fellow Americans: Anne Lamott, Luci Shaw, Madeleine L’Engle, and Barbara Brown Taylor. I would love to be able to read some of the authors you mention, including Jean Hersey. So – count me in, please! Blessings to you across the ‘pond’ from Liz xx

  36. Count me in. 🙂

  37. mary thompson says:

    I, too, love Jean Hersey – not just Shape of a Year, but others about retirement, gardening, etc. Recently, re-reading her books, I’ve also acquired her “Widow’s Pilgrimage” which tells so honestly of her struggles after her beloved husband died suddenly after almost 50 years of marriage. Some of my friends are experiencing this loss and, since I love Jean Hersey’s writing so much, it’s helpful to hear how this affects her life. I love your books, too, Katrina. Blessings—

  38. Alison Petraske says:

    I’m sitting with my cup of coffee about to start my day. An ordinary day for me, but a busy one delivering babies. Thank you for the pause. I love the idea that peace can come with attention to nature’s details. Sometimes I get so caught up in the doing that I forget to pay attention.

  39. Count me in!

  40. Kathryn N. says:

    i love the book, “Catherine Called Birdie”. I look forward to sharing it with my grand daughter when she is older, 9 or 10. I also love “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”.

  41. count me in. Thank you!

  42. Oh, how I would love this book. As a yoga teacher and voracious reader of all things ‘zen’ it is my work to live and find joy in the present moment. The challenge is putting aside all of our ‘stuff’ long enough to see/feel/hear the beauty in the ordinary. It has been particularly challenging for me lately and for me winter is compounding the distractions. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts…

  43. oh, please! And may I recommend “Diary of a Country Year”?

  44. I’ve recommended your writing to many women, so I hope your vision will absolutely come true! And it’s a particularly female wish, somehow, to forge a quiet but vital bond stretching over decades. Thanks for your beautiful work.

  45. Sounds like a delightful winter read!

  46. I love that you found such a treasure in your cottage – as if that house was just waiting for you to make it your home. I love a winter day with soup on the stove, kids in and out to play in the snow. (But not too many – wet winter clothes draped everywhere and school cancellations grow old quickly).

    I am inspired to feed the birds again after a hiatus due to super aggressive squirrels climbing up the house and screens in the fall. But I loved seeing the birds come to the feeder and the ritual of filling the feeders up. It’s the small things for sure.

  47. Julia Throm says:

    I’m from Central Ohio and often wish we had the kind of winters you have in New England…. long and slow… all too often here we can swing back and forth between seasons in a matter of days. But I am learning to enjoy and savor even that.

  48. Please, count me in! I love Gladys Taber’s writings…and to think there is something else like that to dwell in fills me with anticipation! And to have it in a lovely book form.
    I love BOOKS! The art, holding it in your hand….wonderful!

  49. Susan Nerlove says:

    What a beautiful reflection! I am a relatively recent transplant from Chicago to Houston with snowy winters just a memory. You remind me of the part I miss. One passage that you quote from Hersey really spoke to me this morning:
    “Some days, confidence shrinks to the size of a pea, the backbone feels like a feather. We want to be somewhere else, and don’t know where; we want to be someone else and don’t know who.”
    Thank you for bringing this lovely book to our attention!

  50. I love old books! I always have to smell the pages of a book before i read it—I have o idea where THAT strange habit came from. I love how reading a book can send your soul on a journey shared by a thousand other friends!

  51. I love reading your posts!! Your books and your past posts (I’ve printed dozens of them) are my favorite things to re-read on days when my soul needs to catch up to my body. I also love “Gift from the Sea”, “The Circle of Simplicity” by Cecile Andrews, and “The Simple Living Guide” by Janet Luhrs.
    I have read so many of the books that you have recommended, and I have yet to be disappointed! So, I would love to read this one. Count me in! And thank you for sharing your gift with words with us!

  52. What a lovely book – count me in. 🙂

  53. Connie Martin Kearins says:

    Heather Lende has published a few books about living in Alaska and raising a family. Excellent reads. Entertaining. Thoughtful. Lovely.
    Stay warm my friend!

  54. I’ve re-read On Being Told Her Second Husband Has Taken His First Lover and Other Stories by Tess Slesinger. She writes beautifully and the stories are very moving. The book was written in the 1930s. I’m surprised and delighted to see it’s been reissued in paperback – I highly recommend it. Count me in!

  55. Christa Fenton says:

    “Count me in!”

  56. I am drawn to memoirs, particularly authors who find parallels between nature and inner growth. That is why I loved and recommend your books. The Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh still resonates with me, and I re-read chapters every year.

    I would love to add another gem like this to my collection.

  57. If you haven’t read it ready, Two Gardeners by Katherine White and Elizabeth Lawrence is wonderful. It’s a collection of letters between the two women. White was the editor for the New Yorker, Lawrence a southern garden writer. They correspond about gardens, plants and life. I always look for older books like these at book ses. I’d love to read The Shape of aYear.

  58. Bridgett Jensen says:

    It’s not old or little known, but Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott is a book I go back to all the time for a dose of comfort.

  59. Heather M says:

    I would love to read this book. I love reading books on a cozy, snowy day or any day 🙂

  60. A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor. I spent many hours as a child getting lost in the amazing illustrations and wishing I could crawl inside and become a member of that family and live in that time, checking the book out from the library over and over again. Now, I love paging through the book with my boys when they will agree to it (they are 11 and 14).

  61. Good morning, Katrina! What a lovely post. You (and Jean!) have perfectly captured all the senses of a winter morning. Another woman whose words resonate is there in your photo of books, Lillian Marcotte’s “We Dared to Live Different.” I’m so fortunate to have met her a few summers ago when she was 94 and still living in the home she built with her husband on a beautiful mountain road in Hartland, Vermont. She welcomed us in and graciously gave us a tour of her many house plants and signed copies of her books for us. As you have so eloquently reminded us, Lillian too believed that “it is very important to learn to appreciate the small, simple things of life and not let them go by unnoticed.”

  62. Count me in.

  63. Just the post I needed on this cold, snowy morning in upstate NY. Count me in as well, Katrina. I love “Gifts from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindberg and reread it every few years. Something about the way she populated her cottage with only natural items and the beautiful way she linked shells to qualities in a woman’s life. When I read it, it’s much like sitting down with an old friend.

  64. I love re-reading books from my youth, now that my daughter is a tween. My favorite re-read recently was “Anne of Green Gables”. What a joy to have a strong girl character.

  65. Please count me in. What a beautiful post you have written today…thank you. I love memoirs but my favorite I would have to say it Gladys Taber, having read her over and over for over thirty years. She actually may have been my first experience with memoirs as a young woman. Next in line would be Anne Truitt, May Sarton, and Anne Lamott.
    I lost my husband of almost fifty years seventeen months ago and just beginning to find the concentration to stay with a book again as books have been my dearest friends since childhood. But I tell you this because this quote you noted just resonated with me in my current place in life: ” The awkwardness of change: “A restlessness in our bones responds to the wild restless winds of the month. The wind in January awakens a kind of strength. February storms rouse our spirits and hearten our defenses. But a tearing March wind howls through us exposing lonely and unfamiliar areas. We are not at home with the strange impulses and wild, undisciplined thoughts that go blowing through our minds and emotions. Some days, confidence shrinks to the size of a pea, the backbone feels like a feather. We want to be somewhere else, and don’t know where; we want to be someone else and don’t know who.” Also a New Englander, living in Rhode Island being hit with storm after storm with another on it’s way this weekend… Thank you for your words today, a balm for the soul.

  66. My favorite vintage book is one from my grandmother called The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. My grandmother’s notes in the margin are priceless.

  67. Angela Leddy says:

    Count me in, Katrina. I so look forward to your posts and always come away feeling like I’ve shared an intimate conversation with you.

  68. I would love to win this special copy. I love the simpleness and ease of the quotes you shared. Thank you.

  69. Like you, I love to acquiesce to winter, love to tend the feeders, conjure up soups and stews, and feel snug at home. Winter’s snows have always upended the laws of time for me, so it’s in winter that I most love to delve into the past, in my own thoughts as well as my reading. As you know, allthough I live in the here and now, the noise and distractions of modern life jar my spirit. This is why I love, have always loved, to travel back in time to absorb the quiet observations of those who have lived close to nature. I cherish the naturalists for this reason, and it’s why I also adore writers like Jean Hersey. (Thank you for introducing her to us!) It’s calming and comforting to know that the gifts of the seasons are eternal. Have you ever read Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac? I also love The Outermost House by Henry Beston.

    Thank you for this beautiful post, and most of all, for your gentle way of being in the world. You are a gift and a treasure. xoxo

  70. Count me in! I love old books that soothe the soul.

  71. Wylie Hunt says:

    Gifts from the Sea is definitely one of my favorites. Madeline L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals series is also a treasure. I think it’s wonderful that you found this book in your cottage and treasured it!

  72. I find myself returning to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gifts from the Sea every year, especially in summer… and Kathleen Norris speaks to me too, in a mid-wintery sort of way.

    Thank you for the giveaway… I will have to be looking out for that book if I don’t win the copy. 😉

  73. This book sounds just lovely. Please count me in. One of my all time favorites is by Gunilla Norris and is called Being Home … lovely thoughts on finding the sacred in everyday tasks and moments. It’s a beautiful little book.

  74. I just read “The End Of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe on a snowy Sunday last week here on Long Island New York. It is a moving memoir about Will’s mother Maryanne, and how during her battle with pancreatic cancer the two began in informal “book club” of two reading and discussing a multitude of books. It shows how books comfort, astonish, and illuminate life.
    I gave it to my 76 year old mother to read. She too started to devour it over the latest blizzard, and at first said to me after reading only part of it, “but Kathy I have not read many of these books they have,” and I said,”it is not about the specific books, but their relationship, her wonderful life, spirituality, and how books aloud them the opportunity to discuss very important issues they otherwise would not have.”
    In the book Maryann’s dear old friend sends her a copy of a book titled, Daily Strengths For Daily Needs, by Mary Tileston. IT WAS WRITTEN IN 1884! It became her constant companion that she carried with her everywhere! It was an original, and the thought of the people who had held it before her and the strength it must have given them comforted her like no other! Yesterday my wonderful mother surprised me with a copy of “Daily Strengths For Daily Needs! She ordered them online for the both of us! Love her!
    Katrina,you would love both of these if you have not already read them!

  75. What a lovely give-away! A couple of my favourite February reads are Jan Struther’s Mrs. Miniver and the more recent At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman. I also recently discovered Laurie Colwin through your website and am reading through Lone Pilgrim right now!

  76. Sally Piscitelli says:

    I was so pleased to see so many of my favorite books mentioned here. especially the books of Gladys Tabor. my favorite authors to name a few are; Anne Lamotte, May Sarton, Gene Stratton Porter, and a ton more of the same type of books and I am tickled to find others who remember them. I have a whole collection of all of these authors and a whole lot more. I am a book collector and I worry that when I die there will be no one to take care of my wonderful library ( I converted one whole bedroom into a beautiful library to house my collection. I even have all of Andy Rooney’s books. I loved listening to him at the end of “60 minutes”. I have given away probably more books than I have left in my library but I don’t think so. I have books all over my house.
    thank you Katrina for your wonderful books that I have also and your column that lets us all share our thoughts

  77. P.S. You know you will have to make a list of all these book suggestions for us! Namaste!

  78. Gloria Howard says:

    Hello Katrina,
    Love this latest post. I’ve enjoyed watching the birds at my bird feeder this past snowy week in my Massachusetts backyard. I love pulling out my worn copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder books like The Long Winter during snowstorms. I realize Ma Ingalls had it so much worse than me!

  79. Robin Fisher says:

    What a year this one has been! Last March my father and my grandfather died within a week of each other. Then three weeks ago my step -father died. These losses have been so close together, and combined with our oldest daughter leaving for college and laden with lessons about grief, loss, letting go – most simply capturing the gifts of an ordinary day. Thank you for reinforcing this concept with your beautiful book, Katrina! You have offered me so much support with your writing – even Rolf Gates’ meditation book! My step- father read a sweet book of poetry to all of us growing up – now out of print- Pennies from Heaven, which I hunted down to read and recite to my own daughters, when they were little. I would love to include a book that you recommend in my library.

  80. Count me in!

    My thoughts of winter a few days ago …

    “It’s a winter wonderland this evening! The full Snow Moon rise was spectacular with Jupiter shining alongside. And today’s new fallen snow is sparkling in the full moon light. I’m happy we don’t have streetlights to hide the beautiful sight!”

  81. The Psalms tell us: “So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.”Thank you for your inspiration to observe closely., an invaluable tool for ‘numbering our days’. Your words always touch my heart and bring me to tears. Two old books (thematically related) that hold a special place in my heart are: Growing Myself:A Spiritual Journey through Gardening by Judith Handelsman and An Unknown Woman by Alice Koller. Thank you also for introducing us to Jean Hersey

  82. I read They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth Curry in 5th grade and still return to it occasionally to find my old friends once again. Thank you for your writing!

  83. Susan Baron says:

    Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl is the book to which I turn when life feels overwhelming, and when I want to pay attention to all that I have, as opposed to all that I don’t.

  84. Sue Barrett says:

    I recently read “A Winter’s Love” by Madeleine L’Engle and loved it. Basically anything written by Madeleine would be a treasure for my heart.

  85. Pam Gardner says:

    I especially love Ann Morrow Lindbergh and the poetry of Mary Oliver, also Tasha Tudor and Gladys Tabor. I would love to win the book!

  86. Looking forward to give myself permission to read and treasure the time to do so. You list is very inspiring and of course I would treasure the give away. Thanks.

  87. Sandie Black says:

    Count me in! Today is my 75th birthday and what a gift to read your blog! I have rather recently discovered the peace and contentment the comes from ” noticing” and am so grateful to feel the affinity that comes from sharing this experience through the beautiful prose expressed in The Shape of A Year. Brings me home to myself and the beauty of everyday. Thank you.

  88. What a lovely book. Something as simple and elemental as just being opens the door to beauty and peace. This certainly reflects the theme of your writing. Thank you for sharing Jean Hersey, as well as your own authenticity.

  89. Thank you, Katrina. Thank you so much!

  90. Outside my home office window hangs a bird feeder that connects me to the wider world and the rhythms of life in all seasons. Count me in.

  91. Would love to win this book…sounds right up my alley. One of my all time favorite books is Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. But just finished Anne Lamotte’s Blue Shoe…LOVED IT!! Thanks for the opportunity!

  92. Sharon Lewis says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about stillness and winter…. and about this book, which sounds wonderful! It’s so amazing how books can get under the covers of our lives and make such a deep impact. I have been a voracious reader from childhood, and the books of Louisa May Alcott, especially “Little Women,” have stayed with me (and been re-read often) throughout my life. Thank you for offering this little contest!

  93. Tobey Levine says:

    I know you have mentioned this book in past posts, but Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From The Sea” is like a bible to me.

  94. Leslie Basham says:

    So beautiful! I love the qoutes and the pictures. Thanks for sharing too, your favorite writers, as I have shared your books with many friends. I love to pick yours’ up and just read a few pages, sort of like a blog post. I am wanting to read Magical Journey again because I now have an appreciation for yoga that I didn’t have before! Maybe I’ll listen to it instead, as I did Mitten Strings to God so many years and walks ago!! On my good ol walkman! Take care.

  95. Count me in

  96. Darian Libauer says:

    My daughter introduced me to your writing…..your books have meant so much to her as her sons grow up and out into their own lives. And now your works are special to me too. Thanks for all you share. Like you, I have loved May Sarton…a cat person like myself. Please count me in.

  97. Count me in. I love books.

  98. Lori Moffitt Cruz says:

    Your writings are a muffled blessing to me, caught between the mighty mountains and the Mississippi on the great northern plains of Texas. Little snow and little peace I find here, having relocated for love and anchored now by our jobs and an expanding family. Please “count me in.”

  99. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a winter day. It is the simple things, the quiet moments, that help us to re-center. Reading your words remind me of the writing of Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea.
    “I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.”
    ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
    “Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day- like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”
    ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
    We can find that peace in so many ways. I would love to read the book by Jean Hersey.

  100. I love, love, love anything that reminds me of snow and the quietness of winter. Thank you for the excerpt and lovely illustration from The Shape of A Year. Originally from Minnesota, my husband and I now reside in sunny Arizona. While we love it here, I have wonderful memories of the seasons back home. I would read this book in a heartbeat!

  101. Seeing a cardinal always gives me thoughts of my dear mother. When she was dying of cancer, she prayed that God would send a cardinal to her bird feeder, as a sign that He heard her prayers. Of course, we always made sure she had good sunflower seed to feed them. On her deathbed in a big city hospital in May, as our family gathered together, we saw a cardinal on her 5th floor windowsill.
    So many years later, my children and grandchildren know that the cardinal brings a special thought of Mom’s love and faith. Thank you for the many links to new books to read. Love always.

  102. What a lovely piece of writing and lovely offer! Please count me in! This winter in Maine has been snowfilled and cold but still fun thanks to our dear Lab pupper named Tank! Favorite old books…boy, so many to count, but I so love ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by Munro Leaf… Keep up the great work, your writing very often resonates in my soul.

  103. As I went out to get the mail in the twilight of a cold, Michigan night, I noted the full moon glowing. I looked through the trees and the stars twinkling ,but it wasn’t the stars. It was the ice, feathers on the tree limbs. It’s the ice that forms when there has been sun shining on the trees. It makes feathers! As I looked the whole tree was like diamonds sparking. I smiled and felt so warm.

  104. You are one of a long line of women writers that touch me in your ability to make every day a blessing to see and absorb. Not having the gift of writing, I envy all of you that share with us your gift. Isn’t it wonderful to see how much we have in common with the women who have gone before us. We’re so much more alike than different. Thank you for sharing–your life as well as those of other writers you find.

  105. i’ll quietly stand in the long line hoping to run my fingers over the time-worn velvet-napped pages of this kindred spirit who has stepped across the centuries to tap us on the shoulder and remind us: the poetry of the passing year has been noticed, pressed to pages.

    if i don’t get to be the lucky recipient — and i’ve never had much luck in the lottery department — i’ll track down jean hersey, soul sister, on the shelves of whatever library might have been blessed enough to have been bequeathed a copy. and it’s blessing aplenty to read passages here. thank you…..for always paying attention….

  106. Seeing your new post in my in box brought joy this morning. Reading it has been a blessing. Our current news is filled with one horror after another being brought back to the solace of nature is a gift of pure peace. I too would love to read your precious find. Thank you

  107. Your sentiments of winter parallel my own especially when you expressed that it gives us pause to slow down. I love winters to be winters. I love being snowed in and having no place I have to go. On those cold and snowy days I cook soups and stews. I also bake brownies and make hot chocolate for my boys and their friends so they can feel the warmth when they come in from shoveling, sledding, etc. I believe in embracing the winter and love when there is snow on the ground. Thank you, Katrina, for your down to earth sentiments.

  108. Please count me in. I rarely have anything profound to say myself and so appreciate all the more the profound words of skilled writers such as yourself and Jean Hersey. Thank you for your generousity in conducting this raffle.

  109. Laura Cole says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the May Sarton book- I bought it but have still to read it.

    I would also love to read the Shape of a Year. Please count me in.
    I love reading your blog and reminding myself to be mindful of the time I spend with my two daughters.

  110. Leslie Kelly says:

    It takes me a while to transition into New York winters but once “there” I love to cook, bake, read, write and “listen”. The goodness and warmth of home cooking and the time to reflect and just be are true gifts. This weekend I will be making a spice cake with cinnamon frosting from scratch for my mother’s 86th birthday. My mother used to read chapters to me from the “Mary Jane” series of books. They belonged to her and she had read them as a young girl. Thinking about them makes me want to borrow one and reclaim a little piece of my childhood!

  111. I find myself reaching for A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh every spring. Its message is timeless, especially as I move through the “sea shells” of life. I’m currently in the oyster shell mode :-). Count me in!

  112. Lovely words from an old treasured book. I would love a copy to cozy up with on a wintery day.

  113. Count me in. Sounds great.

  114. When my grandmother (gone for many years) travelled from England, post WW1, she kept a diary. She was from a life of ‘some’ privilege and came to live in a small company town on the BC coast. Here she met my grandfather and here they raised their family. Her diary, with its many detailed descriptions and candid observations of her new life, is a treasure to me – a glimpse into the simple life of a woman during a time of great change. Of course, because I loved her deeply, her words have resonated throughout my life. When I think of the times she lived through and the resourcefulness with which she embraced her life, I am reminded of Friar Laurence in “Romeo and Juliet”, speaking to a petulant Romeo who has just been banished. He reminds the young suitor of several, very positive aspects of his life and ends each declaration with, “There art thou happy!!”

    Whenever I’m tempted to wallow a bit, that mantra lifts me into gratitude – as I am grateful today for your writing Katrina.

  115. I, too, am a fan of Gladys Taber…and May Sarton, Madeline L’Engle, I have not read Shape of a Year, but would love to!

  116. Please count me in for this lovely book.

  117. As I sit here in my Florida kitchen with sun shining through my windows, I would love to be sitting in your kitchen reading, The Shape of a Year. How cozy and inviting it all seems!

  118. Amanda Renbarger says:

    Isn’t it wonderful how a group of people can be drawn together by the promise of a good book, especially those books which are “old friends” to so many of us? I have not read The Shape of a Year but the descriptions of it have a gentle appeal. A perennial favorite of mine is Rosamunde Pilcher’s “Coming Home.” Always dear and familiar, yet has a poignancy which always makes me reach for it when I need comfort.

  119. Susan Bragg says:

    Loved Gift From The Sea along with all your books. You touch my soul!

  120. Joell Stebelton says:

    Not as old, but certainly as friendly is Slowing Time by Barbara Mahany. The perfect companion for these cold, quiet days.

  121. I have returned most often to Gifts From the Sea, and every time it is both old friend and new inspiration.

  122. Linda Marten says:

    Thank you Katrina. The words and photos of winter help me appreciate and accept this winter time of my life. You inspire me to write, again.
    Warm wishes,
    Linda Marten

  123. I compare reading your written word to soothing piano music–calming and beautiful!
    One of my cherished memories as a young teen is when my mom and I, both animal lovers, fell in love with James Herriot’s series…I would be curled up on the couch and she in her favorite wing chair randomly chuckling while reading of the eclectic characters and animals while “shivering” when Herriot so realistically described his journeys to a midnight vet emergency in the snowy or cold and rainy Yorkshire countryside….

    How I wish she were still here so that we could return to our comfortable spots and enjoy reading your work together…she would have joined us all in adoration!!

  124. I love this and would so love to read this sweet book! One of my favorites that I have (1931) is “The Way to Perfection” by Joseph Fielding Smith.

  125. bookboxer says:

    I still go back to “gift from the sea” every now and again….

  126. Carole Coates says:

    I love books of this sort–quiet, thoughtful, kindred spirits. I read every one I can get my hands on. One author I was happy to discover was Gladys Taber.

  127. I recently found a signed copy of The Blue Flower by Henry Van Dyke. Not only did the good professor sign the book, he penned one of his poems inside. I was giddy upon it’s arrival. A true treasure. I love the way you talk about books, Katrina. It makes me feel a kindred.

  128. I have just made a reading list of all these wonderful recommendations – what a gift! I can’t wait to get to the library to pick up a copy of “The Outermost House” this afternoon.

  129. I found Gladys Taber last year. What a treasure. Please count me in.

  130. Count me in, pretty please. What a fun give-away and thank you for YOUR beautiful writings.

  131. Thank you Katrina once again for a beautiful read. And I, too, can identify with the deep snow, chilled temperatures, and whipping winds here in central New York. The winter weather does allow the security and comforts of home. There is nothing better then a snowstorm that gives me the excuse to go nowhere. I feel it is so important to take this quiet time during the winter months to do more self-reflecting. It allows more time to nurture the soul. I feel the world is much too rushed these days. Or I am getting much older. I have many favorites that I enjoy to read and re-read. Your Magical Journey is right up there. During and after reading that book I felt such a deep connection with you and didn’t feel alone. I truly felt that you had written that book for me. So I have been blessed to have this connection. Another favorite to read and re-read is Anna Quindlen’s “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”. I love to read deep meaningful books, so I would love to add the book The Shape of a Year to my personal collection. I enjoy your thoughts very much!!! Peace & smiles.

  132. rebecca Mcmahan says:

    I so miss the snow of my youth in Nebraska. Here in southern Virginia it is a rare treat. The snow and all the gifts it brings-silence,beauty–feeling cozy under the blankets with a cup of chai tea and a book written by someone to connect with–heavenly.

  133. I’ve loved May Sarton’s ‘The House By The Sea’ maybe because I have dreams to do this myself! (plus my husband of course) x

  134. Count me in !

  135. Louise Andrews Kent, Mrs. Appleyard’s Year. It’s a memoir, except that Kent uses the character of Mrs Appleyard to tell her story. Written in 1941, it’s a delight to read aloud on the appropriate holidays.

  136. Barbara Jean Hubbard says:

    Enjoy the stillness of winter.

  137. Gift from the Sea – i read it every year in spring to get myself ready for summer. I love reading books that might not have anything special going on but remind me of the simple things in life and what i should be paying attention to maybe a bit more than I should

  138. Mariela Gomez says:

    I love the snow, and being snowed in. Haven’t had any this winter here in DC. I love how it makes you slow down….

  139. Sarah Craighead Dedmon says:

    Count me in, from deepest Downeast Maine.

    Best –


  140. I would love to read and cherish this book.

  141. Oh my goodness! I am going to have to pull out my handy dandy list of “books that I want to read” and start recording all of these wonderful suggestions!!! There is not enough time in a day to read all of these books that sound so great, but I will sure try! 🙂

  142. Catherine says:

    What a coincidence, the timing of your post today. I just returned from our bookstore where I picked up two copies of A Gift of An Ordinary Day to give to my two good friends as we spend a “girls’ week” together next week. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate book to share, and was delighted to find two copies remaining on the shelf. I’d love to read The Shape of A Year! Thanks to all the other commenters for posting some additional great suggestions.

  143. I love the Stillmeadow books by Gladys Taber. My mom introduced me to them. I hunted down all of them for her before the days of the internet and Amazon. I bought an extra copy for Stillmeadow Sampler for myself.

  144. Nancy Peterson says:

    When I read the name MADELINE L’ENGLE, I stopped for a few minutes and remembered when my daughter, my niece and I were all reading her books and loving each of them–A CIRCLE of Quiet, THE SUMMER of the Great GRANDMOTHER and THE IRRATIOAL SEASON——My niece (Kathleen) in New York was walking and talking with a friend one day when her friend interrupted and asked” Do you mind if we just take a couple minutes to say HI to my
    Grandmother? ”
    They came off the elevator in front of a door and as her friend rang the bell Kathleen asked “By the way what is your Grandmother’s name?” —-it was MADELINE L’ENGLE !——

  145. Memoir is probably my favorite genre, but I love too many to choose just one. Count me in!

  146. I love old cookbooks. I scour antique stores and only buy if the cookbook looks well worn. Finding one with handwritten notes in the margin is even better! I wonder about who the person was that used the cookbook to feed her family. I wonder what her life was like, was she happy, did she have a good life??

  147. Count me in.
    And Gifts from the Sea.

  148. In this upside down world, we’re experiencing an early spring in Park City, Utah. The bulbs are reaching up from the thawed ground and the neighborhood bunnies, feeding on exposed grass outside my window, are the size of Thanksgiving turkeys!
    My best girlfriend shared A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken with me in 1978. I’ve read it several times over the decades. When she lost her battle with breast cancer last year, I re-visted the book – it seemed almost prophetic of her journey.

  149. Susan Farnam says:

    What a coincidence! The woman who commented before me mentioned Gifts from the Sea. I just finished that book…a borrowed copy, and right away ordered my own to reread in the future.
    So many of my friends here in Connecticut complain about the snow and the cold but for me it becomes my reason to slow down and enjoy the beauty all around me. I am so happy to find others who feel the same way.

  150. I find winter to be the most peaceful of the seasons, even in the midst of a snowstorm.
    I always feel relaxed when I read your blogs, Katrina,
    Your thoughts and how you say them are peaceful and relaxing in themselves. Thanks!
    My favorite old book is Black Beauty. Animals teach me so much about living in the present and savoring time as it passes. Their motives are so pure, unlike lots of humans!

  151. That’s when I knew I was firmly ensconced in middle age. My intense attraction to the birds at my feeder. It’s as if they are my charges and I’m derelict in my duty if their feeder is empty. I listen for the cardinal’s chirp, chirp. Seeing his red breast brings me such joy. The 25-year-old me would have died laughing. Sounds like a beautiful book.

  152. Pam Hunter says:

    Count me in! I am always so excited when your email hits my inbox. I feel like I am hearing from a good friend. I, too, have shared many of the same feelings of letting go of my children, my new place in my life after children, losing a friend, ailing parents, as well as amazing love, angst, pride, joy and grief. Thank you so very much for sharing your soul through your books. It does my soul good! xo


    PS: A Gift From The Sea; Anne Morrow Lindbergh … happiness!

  153. Denise Dunstan says:

    Count me in please

  154. Thank you for your wise words and kind offering. A favorite book I often return to is Connections by Gabrielle Roth, my beloved mentor (now in the spirit world).

  155. Bernie Quimpo says:

    Sending you warmth and love all the way from the Philippines. Count me in please. 🙂

  156. Drinking the Rain: A Memoir by Alix Kates Shulman is one of those books about everyday life that change you for the better.

  157. Tina Mandeville says:

    What a treasure! Thanks for sharing excerpts from Jean’s book. All things that change same the same perhaps. Indeed kindred hearts. When I visit antique stores, I love to seek out old books….I mean really old books. I have a handful that are dated back to early century. They are books about all aspects of life and what always strikes me upon reading them is that the human condition is timeless. These authors could be sitting across from Oprah and be having a relevant conversation! There lies pearls of wisdom in these pages. I am always captivated.

    Old Man Winter certainly woke up! Our New England weather has been quite eventful. Thanks for your post that warmed us on one of the coldest of days!

  158. Chris Wells says:

    I was so pleased to see you mention Gladys Taber. She was completely unknown to me until a few years ago. I now own 7 of her books. You can find them online sometimes, but what fun to find them in a dusty 2nd hand shop or a library book sale. Now I shall begin to search out Jean Hersey. And I smiled to think that some day, generations from now, some kindred spirit will pick up a dusty hidden copy of The Gift of an Ordinary Day or Magical Journey, and they will smile because they know they have found a treasure.

  159. Angelique Clarke says:

    A Year by the Sea

  160. Count me in.

  161. Mary hassell says:

    Please count me in!

  162. What wonderful recommendations in these comments, I have a long list of books to look for. I am writing from the north-west of Western Australia where each day hits around 120deg and the lowest temperature we get overnight is 90! I would give a great deal for a cold, snowy day right now! Old books have been my companions from childhood. I was lucky enough as a child to have my late grandmothers copies of Anne of Green Gables, like several other commenters. I never knew her ( she died when my mother was 15) but have always felt a connection because of her books. I also had her books from the Elsie Dinsmore series, which seems to be much less well known. The pace of life and lack of distractions beyond what was necessary for daily life is one of the things I love about these old books. I collect old recipe books and anything related to home keeping. I feel I must protect the old ways of life from being relegated to scrap and their gentle lessons of observing
    Iife at a slower pace being forgotten. How lovely to come here and meet other kindred spirits. Please count me in.

  163. Melissa H. says:

    Count me in!

    I love reading the original fairy tales (Grimm’s, Hans Christian Andersen), especially with my little ones, by the fire! I love Little Women, Anne of Green Gables. The list could go on.

    Snow on the cedars and birds at the feeder are some of my favourite winter things!

  164. Sounds like a perfect read for the rhythm of a snowday!

  165. Count me in!

  166. I love feeding the birds in the winter too. (and the squirrels) They are so much fun to watch. Great entertainment while stuck inside during the cold, snowy Maine winter we are having this year.

  167. I love Cape Cod Cookery with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. I also love all of Gladys Tabors books. I enjoy any old fashioned book that is divided into seasons. Winter does have a beauty, even if there is not snow here in Kentucky.

  168. Living in a 193 year old farmhouse here at Chestnut Hill, I often ponder what those before me were thinking on a daily or seasonal basis. How many winter storms have women watched out my same windows, how often has the road been closed due to large snow drifts? That would be one time in my 27 years here. Did the women send loved ones to war from this old house? What did they love to bake and cook? I wish the walls could talk sometimes and I wonder what stories will they tell of my being here? Today at the end of the day the sun was out and the wind was blowing fine snow like sand in a desert, making very artful snow drifts akin to sand dunes. Looking to the west as the sun was going down the shadows were long and that shifting snow sand was amazing to watch in the late sun shine.
    Hill Song By Lee Pennock Huntington is an old favorite of mine, A year in her Vermont home. c.1985 – not so old but 30 years now, ” A week of impossibly fickle weather , beginning with a balmy April day in which the earth heaved and gave back the frost it had gathered. Roads running with melt, ruts deepening hazardously, the barnyard a chocolate swamp.”

  169. Count me in!

  170. Deborah M. says:

    Four books come to mind…A Year by the Sea, By Joan Anderson, A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle, and A Timbered Choir, by Wendell Berry, and Plain and Simple, by Sue Bender. All very soulful.

  171. Count me in! Sounds like a perfect read for this season. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and the words of others whose written legacy is still enjoyed.

  172. Deborah Dwight says:

    Wish you would send us some of your snow! Except for 4inches in mid-November, nothing but a few dustings here in southwest Ohio….

  173. Count me in! The book sounds wonderful. Happy reading!
    Mary Ann

  174. Please count me in! Thank you for reminding me to see the goodness and beauty in the MOUNTAINS of snow that have fallen here in New Hampshire over the past two weeks. I only wish I had read this before I spent an hour trying to shovel out the end of our driveway yesterday after the city snowplow came by. I did notice some birds overhead while I was struggling with the heavy snow and thought that was God’s way of reminding me that Spring isn’t that far off. Would love a nice book to read on a cold winter’s day!

  175. Hi Katrina, Thanks for sharing your reflections of the moment we are in. Snowbound to slow down seems to be what the earth is communicating to us. Stay warm, Michelle

    “Through small imperceptible movements, we observe changes in nature, seeds sprouting, water dripping on an autumn leaf. We allow ourselves to be sustained by the embrace of the earth, taste, savour, sniff, touch, perhaps sleep…in a ray of sunshine.” Sandra Sabatini
    Yoga through the Seasons

  176. Castine Clerkin says:

    Count me in! Having returned to the northeast after years away, I am eager to welcome the winter offering to slow down and embrace this ordinary life.

  177. Having grown up in Australia with 2 seasons and no real winter, I moved to Sweden 5 years ago. I have learned to love and respect the rhythm of 4 seasons and the way winter here forces you to stop, regroup, rest and plan for the year ahead. Long, dark, frozen days give way to a long endless day of summer with 20 hours of sunlight and an outdoor life. I wouldn’t swap my 4 season life now for anything!

  178. Martina Walsh says:

    i have a book that was my Grandmothers cookbook. The author has written little stories in amongst the recipes, some on how the recipes came about & some stories that are just little memories to her. On top of that my grandmother made little handwritten notes throughout & just the other day I found a scribbled note written by my father as a child obviously teasing his brother. My father passed away 9 years ago & suddenly I caught a glimpse of him as a mischievous child. The book is called ‘Full & Plenty’.

  179. I picked up a “free for the taker” paperback of Gifts From the Sea at a pancake breakfast at a church on The Eastern Shore and am eager to read it. We were in your little town this summer and loved driving some of the back roads and strolling through an old cemetery. I love that you care for the little birds enough to brave the cold to feed them. Count me in, kind soul.

  180. Robin McMonagle says:

    What a wonderful reminder to stop and embrace the beauty of each present moment and remember “wherever you go, there you are”.

  181. Count me in.

  182. The Healing Woods by Martha Reben

  183. Count me in too. Another lovely book: October Farm, the Concord diaries and journals of William Brewster. (Late 1800s)

  184. McClaren Malcolm says:

    The Gift of an Ordinary Day—thank you for a sensitive rendering of your mothering experiences. Your struggles, while different from mine in detail, were similar in the range of caring, frustration, and small victories along the way.
    I cannot take Jean Hersey’s book from you; however, the excerpts you have shared make my mind glow with northern winters long ago. A favorite read at that time was, I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven. Blessings to you and your family.

  185. My favorite escape is “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and your thoughtful, heartfelt, inspiring postings. Thank you!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  186. Thank you for reminding me once again, Katrina, to stop and notice. I’ve actually been acutely aware of the February air this week when I’ve gotten out of my car at night after bringing home one child or another from an activity. There is a certain “something” that distinguishes it from the cold air of December or January, and I’ve also noticed how crisp and clear and close the stars seem. Nature’s gift if we just slow down to receive it. In terms of my favorite comfort books, Anne of Green Gables is at the top of my list, as well as Susan Branch cookbooks and James Herriot’s All Things Bright and Beautiful.

  187. i am settled into this season of cold quiet beauty.
    i would love to know this book, and will keep an eye out for it.

  188. Rush your life away or stop and be ?

  189. I so look forward to reading your posts. I long for a heavy snowfall that shuts everything down and gives us a snow day! Count me in please.

  190. Meg Schweitzer says:

    How fascinating this web of life is….I have just been reading The Stillmeadow Road by Gladys Taber when I read your lovely blog. We are all settling into the gifts of winter in our lives, our readings, and our soul work. I just read in this novel for the January chapter, “In any area of life, I believe love is a grace fully given, and if fully given is likely to be returned. If even a wild bird momentarily in your hand can accept the fact you care about him, how much more this is true of human beings. There are many kinds of love, in fact I recently read a category of them. But I think it is better to love than to analyze.” Thank you Gladys and Katrina, we need you all in this winter work!!!!

  191. Reading this, and the comments, have inspired me to dig out the Gladys Tabor books I have around somewhere. Two others that I never tire of re-reading are The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Both in the fantasy vein, and just beautifully written – they’ve both stayed with me in the 25 years since I first read them.

  192. On this ORDINARY Saturday here in Canada.. I was making a pot of butternut squash soup and as I looked outside my kitchen window I saw 12 cardinals and then I read your reflection. Your words form pictures in my mind and reinforced what I have been trying to do these past few months…reflecting in the quietness of this beautiful season…backyard birds, candles and white twinkling lights on in the evening, wintery rustic decor in my cozy home, reading and knitting. Thank you Katrina for this beautiful reflection. Please count me in…I would love to add this book to my collection.

  193. Tamara Willems says:

    A favourite wintery day book for me to re-visit is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The beauty and wonder contained in this simple and much loved picture book, perfectly captures the many pleasures to be found in a fresh snowfall from a child’s perspective. It always brings back the pure joy of making the first footprints in fresh snow!
    As I am sat in my chair just now writing this to you, my daily visitor- Mrs. Cardinal is tapping at my window to let me know the bird feeder has been emptied. Funnily enough, I also will be slipping into my husband’s big black boots to go and make some fresh footprints of my own!

  194. When I was younger, my father’s bookshelves were filled with quiet observations of nature. I don’t remember Ms. Hersey’s book, but I do remember Edwin Way Teale and Colin Fletcher. Today, my shelves reflect these same kind of contemplative tastes as my father. I’d love to add “The Shape of a Year” to the collection. Thanks, as always, for your own beautiful expressions of nature, Katrina.

  195. Doris Gabler says:

    count me in

  196. Trish Widdershoven says:

    as I sit in the warmth of our mild west coast winter and see the daffodils blowing in the wind I so appreciate living in this amazing place. I do love to hear about the winter and enjoyed when I was younger but I so love the mild winter. please count me in!

  197. Thank you. I loved the description of your winter, and I’ve just added a bunch of books to my Goodreads list. I’m about half-way through Small Victories. I’ve got gardening books and seed catalogs by my chair for dreaming. I wrote about the forced slow down of winter recently ( I’m mostly loving winter this year. My kids are finally able to play out by themselves and trudge along with us in snowshoes and for the first time in years I don’t feel trapped in the house. The snow is knee deep here with up to a foot expected over the next few days. We’ll be simmering a huge pot of chili tomorrow, and I picked up sausage for a snow day breakfast. The wood box is full and the porch fully stocked. I’m ready for more winter (and counting down the days until sugar shack season starts).

  198. Hi Katrina, A few years ago, my husband Robbie, bought me “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” for Christmas and it was one of the most heart warming books I’ve read in a long time. I was so amazed to read how closely our lives tracked each other. Robbie and I were living in NYC with our two children and in 2004, when our son turned 10, we decided to give up the hustle and bustle and we moved our family to Sag Harbor, NY – a small, rural town on the Eastern end of LI. We then embarked on a one year rebuild of our house into a charming country cottage and a ten year rebuild of our family. I recommended your book to our book club and everyone loved it! Much Love and Light, Candace

  199. What a treasure to have; a glimpse of a life lived. Nostalgia, beauty; the documentation of a life. Glimpses through the cracks of a different world and life. A joy.

  200. Please count me in! Books are such a joy. I read recently that words and stories are “splints for the soul.” One of my favorite books is a children’s book — Frederick by Leo Lionni. He’s a poet mouse and observer. We all need these gifts in our lives. Thanks for sharing yours.

  201. count me in!

  202. Beautiful post – thank you.
    I have a whole new list of books to look for, now!

  203. Count me in. Sounds like a wonderful book

  204. My love of old books has caused me to save those even without covers. I have an old book of children’s poetry that I had recovered and gave to my husband for a birthday gift years ago. We still refer to it now and again.
    Your very generous offer will be appreciated by whoever is lucky enough to receive it. Thanks for the lovely post.

  205. Iris Soto-Mote says:

    Read your book “The gift of an ordinary life” when my youngest son was in his senior year in high school. You were my guide and counselor so many times!! Thank you and please, count me in!!!

  206. So beautiful, Katrina, recalling your conversation across time and your appreciation of winter’s gifts and your generosity to the birds.

  207. I have an old and battered copy of Winnie The Pooh. It was bought for me by my Godparents and is inscribed on the inside cover with their best wishes and the date. The original receipt is also carefully tucked in there too! The paper jacket that originally covered this book disappeared long ago and so the cover is a little battered around the edges. My Godparents passed away many years ago but I have carried this book with me for almost 50 years. Yes, I’d say this is a book that has a special place in my heart.

  208. Gifts of the sea and gift of an ordinary day are two I hold close and draw inspiration from every time I read them. They always find a way to speak to me in the moment. I make sure those close to me have their hands on those books too! ❤️

  209. Count me in! Thank-you for sharing your thoughts and insights into life. They resonate in a beautiful way.

  210. No snow in Florida. I sat in a playground yesterday, watching and listening to the sounds of children playing. It’s been chilly, so being out in the sun was warm and refreshing. The child I was with, watched too. A box of raisins in her hands, water by her side. We were content to let the sun and breeze wash over us. It was good not to feel rushed.

  211. Until I read your message, I’d never known of anyone else to read Glays Taber…or to even know of her. Just thinking of My Own Cape Cod is so heartwarming…to actually read it, transporting. I could see so clearly in my mind’s eye the light through the windows across the floor, the cat curled up in the sunlight’s warmth. Thank you for the wonderful reminder. Another book such as this would be a true treasure!

  212. I would love a copy of the book.
    I am looking forward to another snow here in CT– the fire is on and all is right in the world. I love “The Little Prince’…
    count me in!

  213. Count me in! The “Gift of an Ordinary Day” is one of my most beloved books, and I actually use the phrase as a mantra when I find myself not appreciating the ordinary. My father recently passed away from cancer, but he and I even discussed the book (and the mantra) as we learned to appreciate rare quiet days together, free from emergencies and hospitalizations. Those ordinary days truly were gifts.
    I also enjoy old cookbooks and feel a kinship with those who cooked from them before me (especially if there are handwritten notes and tips!).

    • Linda Marten says:

      Thank you, Tina. Your beautiful words touched me after spending special times with my 91 year old mother who lives far away from me.
      Yes, there are so many gifts in “an ordinary day”.
      Warm wishes,

  214. Judy Tastor says:

    Your words spoke to me so aptly this cold, blowy Sunday in February from Upstate NY!! Thank you for your gift of writing………..and touching so many of us. I bask in my beauty of winter here………and in your reflections. Thank you, Katrina!
    with love,

  215. Debbie Schmitt says:

    Count me in!

  216. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton

  217. Amy Adams says:

    count me in. I love reading the ancients as well as the not so ancient. especially memoirs. but these beloved books can give us so much that reveal ourselves.

    thank you, amy adams

  218. Margo Macfarlane says:

    I would love to place this book beside yours on my bookshelf! We are all connected so profoundly – so deeply – yet we are often so unaware. I listened to On Being yesterday on my way to work and it just happened to be her interview with Mary Oliver. I had the same sense of connection hearing her speak and read her poetry — then you quoted her at the end of your blog…….

  219. Carole Clarin says:

    1967 and the beginning of 1968 was truly a special year for me. It was during that time that I was pregnant with my first child who turns 47 this Valentine’s Day. Looking back I wish I had written about that year but how thrilling it would be to read about 1967 from an author’s perspective as memories come flooding back to me.

  220. Barbara D. says:

    Count me in

  221. Allison Gifford says:

    Count me in! I still turn to “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach for a reality check and a chance to slow down and savor the now and what is important. Would love to win “The Shape of a Year.”

  222. Carol McDermott says:

    Count me in! What a great way to share your love of reading with others.

  223. I’d love to read “The Shape of a Year” and have written down other suggestions of comforting books. My contribution to these suggestions is; “A Place Called Sweetapple” by Celestine Sibley. Unfortunately, also out of print, but if you should ever stumble across it I’m certain it would become a dear friend. Another great favourite of mine is “The Pull of the Moon” by Elizabeth Berg.

  224. Melissa Morrison says:

    My favorite book is Everday Sacred by Sue Bender!

  225. I just love books that chronicle someone’s thoughts and experiences throughout a year, so this one sounds interesting. The books I return to wistfully again and again are Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. It’s sad to me that her life was cut short way too soon, so I treasure her books and lovely writing.

  226. Please count me in!

  227. Please count me in, as well.

  228. I love Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

  229. There are so many comments here that you might not see this in the avalanche, but what you write about here is an inner season, no matter what the time of year. A season that is deeply personal and solitary, intimate, and nearly invisible. It reminds me of a summer, it must have been the summer of 2002 or 2003, when my early, eager writing had stopped. I didn’t know what I was writing or how or for whom or even why. And so I took the summer to read instead, and I had a plan. I read everything by brilliant women authors that my small town library had on its shelves. Everything by May Sarton, Anne Tyler, Alice Munro, Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Berg and several others. What I was listening for was a voice, a real voice, that only real writers could have. And what I heard in each was nothing but their own voice, so clear and confident. Repetitive even, the way we are in real life. I couldn’t write like them. But after that summer I knew how to write – using my own voice – and what to write – the days of my life. Times like these are for remembering what may be hidden but never lost. This is the longest comment I have ever left anywhere and for anyone.

  230. A lovely post and as I’m reading, I’m thinking how much I would love to find a copy of “The Shape of a Year.” Thank you for the giveaway. Old book, part of my heart: I was 29, not yet married and thinking maybe I wasn’t meant to be married. My aunt, sensing my unhappiness, insisted I read her original copy of “Claudia and David” by Rose Franken, a book her mother had given her as a girl. I credit the book for somehow settling me down and making me more open to the joys found in day-to-day married life. I met my husband just three months after I finished the book. Love your writing!

  231. This book sounds lovely! I too am reading Anne Lamott’s “Small Victories” right now, and have just a few essays to finish. I have a growing shelf of memoirs – yours, of course, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Anne Lamott’s, Martha Beck, Jeannette Walls – and I recently finished “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” after visiting the Tenement Museum in New York. Not a memoir, but still such a beautiful connection to a woman’s life in a time other than mine, different experiences but so many similarities in the ordinary moments. Count me in!

  232. I would love to read this book! I really like this post and especially the thoughts on kinship with someone long-gone. I love having written things such as letters, recipes, poems from people I have loved and lost. The idea that our lives are fleeting but what is written remains and is not forgotten. I have information written by my great aunt about my grandfather’s family and how all the children got their names and I treasure it.Thank you so much for your thoughtful writing.

  233. Vicki Crown says:

    Count me in! The snow sounds so beautiful and the cardinal a delight to see. Living in the south, your tranquil scene is so refreshing to our drippy grey days. I won’t live long enough to read every book on my list! I am always looking for that story to read that will give me a moment of peace. Thank you for that.

  234. One of Jean’s quotes is perfect for my “Project Life” scrapbooking adventure-“…I wonder what we will do with this year…” Perfect for my opening page. Would love to read her book 🙂

  235. Count me in! One of my favorite and treasured books is the childhood classic, “Geraldine Belinda” by Marguerite Henry. It was a Christmas gift to my mother in 1942, the year of its publication, from her father. The inside cover bears his beautiful script with a lovely message to her. Both of them are gone now, and I keep the book on a special shelf where it never fails to fill my heart with love just to see it. On another note, I’m disappointed to report, here in DC we’ve had nary a snowflake, feel free to send some to us!

  236. Kelly hanson says:

    A “long gone” author I love is Victor Frankl. His perspective on life in general, and on finding meaning even in suffering, is excellent.

    Thank heavens you are not “long gone,” but in truth, I often turn to your book, “The Gift of an Ordinary Day,” during times of transition. A friend gave it to me during a challenging period in my life (we had moved across the country with two children not long before, and I was still struggling to adapt). In reading your book, I finally felt that someone understood. You’ll never know how much that helped me. Now my children are in high school, and the book inspires me on a whole new level. Thank you for sharing your own writing with the world!

  237. kimberly conway says:

    Thanks for your beautiful post and please count me in 🙂

  238. count me in
    my books are in storage as our family transitions from Boston to Miami by way of Charlotte… your posts are a source of peace for my soul… thank you

  239. Love feeding and watching my birds. They sit in the cherry tree and have completely stripped my beauty bush of berries this winter! They are a joy. Here in VA, we don’t have snow, but alot of rain and grey skies. Want to hunker down with a good book all day long!!

  240. Thanks for this lovely post. Gifts From the Sea is one I treasure, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Please count me in.

  241. At the risk of repeating what many other repliers have said: Anne Morrow Lindbergh – Gift from the Sea. I read it as a teen, while my mom read it in her 40s. She encouraged me to read it again as an adult, as it would speak to me in a different way. It did. I’ve read it maybe 3 times now, and I’m due to read it again, as I’ve just turned 50 (!).

  242. Oh. And little known authors Elspeth Bradbury and Judy Maddox’s “The Garden Letters”. What a lovely book. Sounds very similar to The Shape of a Year; nothing overly exciting or out of the ordinary occurs; merely updates on each others’ gardens etc. Lovely reading.

  243. Hi Katrina
    Count me in!
    I discovered The Gift of an Ordinary Day on the shelf of a summer cottage in the Cotswolds, UK, where my friend had left it. Opened it, and spent blissful days reading it in a hammock strung between birch trees, it could not have been a more perfect setting to be introduced to your writing. Today, in London, the sky is grey and looming after the wonderful clear blue of yesterday. No snow here! I am enjoying all the book recommendations from everyone and will follow up on them. And so, from across the Atlantic, a pointer to an extraordinary contemporary Scottish poet and writer, Kathleen Jamie. Her “Findings” and ” Sightlines” are simply mesmerizing.

  244. I love old cookbooks and feel connected to woman through them.. My great grandmother’s 1940’s copy of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook is one I treasure.

  245. Oh, Katrina. Beautiful as always. These past few days have been extremely busy (and exciting!) with my work. Today I have some time to slow down, and reading your post here helps to put my head and heart in exactly the right space to do just that. Thanks, my friend!

  246. Gift of the Sea. The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Thank you!

  247. I only have one thing to say: I’m so glad I found your blog!

  248. I have copied the whole of the last quote into my journal as it speaks directly this day , to my state of mind, in this particular reference, “Somedays confidence shrinks to the size of a pea, the backbone feels like a feather…” I love that image , though I think the tiny birds that we feed are tougher than we are most days. The shape of my coming year is still up for definition, my website is sort of started, I’m doing some of the things I think into being, but I seem stalled, dreaming,knowing I just have to do the work yet am strangely removed and reluctant. Hopefully it is just the passing winter. Sunshine and a new day may improve the outlook! My favourite source of everyday growing, remembering, wisdom… Lorna Crozier, “Small beneath the sky”

  249. margi dehlin says:

    Please count me in! Some of my favorite pause and reflect books are Walden by Thoreau or any of your books, Katrina. The lovely thing about my old copy of Walden is that it was my father’s book. As he is suffering from late stage Lewy Body, I can find him in the underlined passages of each page. I also enjoy reading Mary Oliver and Robert Frost poetry.

  250. Thank you for your lovely blog.
    Recently I have been enjoying “The Friendly Stars” by Martha Evans Martin, a female astronomer from the early 1900’s.

  251. My favorite book is a 30-year-old children’s story, “The Mountain That Loved a Bird,” by Alice McLerran. It is a beautiful story of a lonely mountain visited by a bird once a year. Katrina, I read “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” several years ago, and it helped me to slow down and savor the ordinary, wonderful moments of my son’s growing-up years. Thank you for the gift of your writing. 🙂

  252. While those around me grumble about the snow, cold and wind I’ll make another cup of tea, settle into the couch with my wool blanket from a trip to Iceland and continue reading. I really do enjoy the quiet reflective time of winter.

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