a hygge-list

Disclaimer: Being neither Danish nor Norwegian, I am no expert on the history & meaning of hygge. Last winter, I read this book about hygge and found the pages comforting, soothing, fascinating. We joke in my house about how to pronounce hygge, and even our amusing stumble (“higgie?”) has become part of the hygge in my life.

hygge in the dollhouse

Actually, to call this post a hygge-list is misleading, because—hygge slows things down, allows us to toss aside any requirements for the linear. Hygge has no truck with the word “should.” …so, let’s say we are sitting somewhere comfortable, with warming beverages in hand, and scattered before us on the table or rug are some ideas that I think might bring hygge to your life (as they have to mine). In no particular order, except whatever hygge-order they come to my mind…

Listen to Poor Will’s Almanack. This episode, in particular, but any of his brief radio/print essays about the natural world bring me to a place of hygge (with love & gratitude to Bill Felker)…

Walk in nature. Yes, maybe it’s cold outside. Maybe it’s raining or snowing or the wind buffets the trees and structures. Bundling up and returning to warmth can be hygge. If you are near Yellow Springs, go to the Glen or the Gorge. If you live elsewhere, find a park or a bit of nature wherever you can. Even a walk around the block, de-phoned…look at the buildings, the people, what do you observe? Breathe outdoor air. (Maybe bring a scrap of paper, maybe write a few things down while you are out, or when you get back. Or just observe, and let the images go.)

Practice radical self-love. One way I do this supports my skin and spirit, via this consciously-sourced artisan Radical Self Love body butter from magician-musician Anne Harris. (This body butter is so delicious-smelling that I have to restrain myself from spreading it on toast. And check out & support Anne’s gorgeous music, too!)

Add more light. A few years ago (before pandemic, with no idea how much I was going to need the mood boost) I put up a string of lights like this one around the living room window. This same string of lights has been almost constantly lit/plugged in ever since (& I am talking years!). I got another strand last year, and another for the porch. Candles are great, too. In the dark season, I even light a candle at the breakfast table. Extreme and simple hygge.


Shop close to home. Find & support small, independently-owned local beautiful businesses whenever you can. In my town I’m talking about Emporium, Tom’s Market, and Current Cuisine. Support independent bookstores like Epic and Dark Star and online at Sam & Eddie’s. These types of businesses epitomize hygge. Where do you find that sort of hygge by you?

(As other things occur to me, I’ll post more. Meanwhile I’d love to know what brings you hygge.)

Grateful, again

creature/creation of earth
creature/creation of earth

Overheard, Yellow Springs, Ohio, on a single day in my grateful life: People singing show tunes around the piano at Emporium Wines & The Underdog Cafe​ this morning; Antioch College students singing together in the Olive Kettering Library; Grace itself in the form of the World House Choir​ singing, this evening, singing to the Mother of us all, the earth.

The world feels full of beauty and love, at the moment.  I’ll cling to this notion, make it my lifeline, for the rainy, dark days that are surely ahead.

Our children

They have their own thoughts, they have their own thoughts

Hardly an original thought, but I am starting to understand how much “our” (=all) children need nature.  Even the grownup children.  In my mind, this thought, which is so simple, connects to this song.

Lyrics by Khalil Gibran, Music by Ysaye M. Barnwell

Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you and though they are with you
They belong not to you
You can give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
Strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you

It is impossible to overstate how bittersweet it is to watch a child grow up.  The process is so slow that it becomes invisible, and then one day, the infant is walking, the toddler is speaking, the child is telling stories.  She runs and stumbles and gets up and isn’t scared and she climbs to the top of the blue jungle gym.  When she stands there, realizing where she is, she says, “Mama, help me,” and while I calmly coach her to find a place to put her feet, I am not breathing, I am “please don’t fall!”ing, and I am trying to know with my own body that she is balanced and strong and wise and that even if she falls, this is the work she needs to do on this day, at this moment.  It is exactly right.

(I can house her body but not her soul…For her soul dwells in a place of tomorrow which I cannot visit not even in my dreams, and this fact is what is so beautiful and this fact is what breaks my entire heart.)

She finds her feet, she climbs down, she smiles with exhilaration and now she has done her work of this day and I have not done it for her, I have resisted even trying, and this means that she knows she can do it herself.  She can do it herself.

And you know what?  I do not want the children to be just like us.  Please no!  I want them to find a better way to live here on this earth.  Meanwhile, let’s help them learn by stepping aside and letting them put their bare feet on the earth, letting them feel the mud and water and prickly grass, and letting them pay attention and do all those beauteous things that surround us every day, those things we forget have such significance in the constant rush of rush rush rush.

The best lilac ever lives on (and blooms)!

This little light of mine...

A tiny, important thing is happening in my yard.  The little white lilac is blooming.

Here’s the history of my beloved, best ever lilac tree.  When I read that old post from 2006, I marvel at how long ago that was in personal years.  Since then, I had a daughter, the country house is larger, now almost roomy, thanks to an addition.  And the white lilac shoot has been moved to its second country house location (to make room for the addition).

A harsh winter, a rainy spring, and now there’s beautiful popcorn on the small tree.  I breathe in its heady fullness.  I look back and think of how I wanted to kick the ass of the people who cut it down.  I think back to how I considered the word “evil” in the cutting down of that good grandmother lilac tree.  (Now, rather than “evil,” I would call it “unskilled,” and the word would not be a euphemism.)

I savor these blooms.  May the years provide many small but important moments to celebrate flexibility, evolution, and the tender cycle of life.