nice to come home to

homemade chocolate pudding

Well, it’s official: snow has come to Chicagoland. We haven’t been hit the hardest (not like Madison or Southern Utah or, gosh, poor Minneapolis), and we’re starting much later than usual (remember last year’s October snowfall?), but we have begun what will probably be a months-long relationship with icy roads and longer commutes, one every Chicagoan is familiar with, one I am sorry to say you will probably hear about here again.

Yesterday, in a fit of there-must-be-a-new-way-of-seeing-stuff-like-snowstorms, I Googled “reasons to like snow” and this is what I found: activities—things like sledding, making snowmen, making snowangels, skiing, tubing, getting days off school. However, this only compounded the problem, particularly that bit about getting snow days, because, when you no longer get weather-provoked time off and when the only daylight that you can claim as your own lies in your morning commute and Saturdays and Sundays, snow angels and sledding don’t seem to find their way into your winter routine.

pudding with spoon

But maybe there are other things. My friend Jacqui said there’s something beautiful about the silence snow creates, the way it insulates the buildings and roads and cars and makes the world a little more magical, quiet and serene. I guess that’s true. And someone wrote here that winter in general gives us the gift of pushing us inside, towards people we love, the heat in the house, the warmth of the stove. That’s true, too.

I need these reminders because let me tell you, when you’re gripping the steering wheel and crawling along the highway, spending what feels like much more time on the road than doing anything else, it’s good to have something warm and comforting to drive home to. Like homemade chocolate pudding, for example.

pudding

Chocolate pudding is one of my earliest comfort foods. In a pinch, my mom and I love the packaged Jell-O Cook N’ Serve that is a simple as combining with milk and heating on the stove: hot and smooth and chocolatey. But when you have a little more time—and, let’s be honest, you’ll be stuck at home at least once this winter, at least if you’re from around here—this recipe is the one to try. It is perfection.

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on simpler things

banana pudding

The move into my brother’s new apartment has taken a few days, it turns out, and Sunday afternoon was one part of the process. After we’d finished unloading the first wave of boxes he’d packed in his car, Adam stepped out to grab more, while I organized his D.V.D. collection into alphabetical order, reaching behind where the T.V. stand goes, onto the white built-in bookshelves next to the fireplace. He came back, tense, still holding the plastic dish rack we’d decided he’d give me, and he told me his car had been towed.

The next 45 minutes or so, I spent alone with boxes and white walls, figuring out how the Brita water pitcher works, folding towels to put in the closet and looking at my silent cell phone, wishing someone would call me. Once those matters were sufficiently taken care of, there was really nothing left to do but sit down in Adam’s soft leather chair, which is a beautiful shade of butterscotch caramel, watching the softly falling snow that would later turn this area into a winter wonderland, in April.

banana pudding

Sitting there, I was reminded of all those things that lurk at the back of your mind, quiet, waiting for you to slow down long enough to listen.

Things like home buying, and what do I want, should I buy, where should I buy, when should I buy, is now the right time; the movie Marley & Me, which I’d watched at my friend Jackie’s place the night before, crying through the entire last 20 minutes; the future and all of its unknowns, from work to living arrangements to relationships; and then, largely, the fact that a few hours in my soft, fluffy down comforter would be about as close to perfect as things could get right now.

Anyway, by the time Adam called to say he was waiting outside, I’d settled on simpler concerns. Like how good some hot banana pudding would be later that night.

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