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.)

Three winter songs

These people know how to deal with winter...

The other day when the sun didn’t shine, and didn’t shine, and didn’t shine, and all my clothes that are not in the attic weren’t warm enough, I got jittery, wondering how I would make it through winter this year.  People say as you age, cold weather becomes harder to endure.  But the grey is too soon this year.  The rain.  Drear, she came early this year.

So as I do when I prepare for winter, today I listened to Dead Can Dance’s Toward the Within.  The live album includes perhaps the saddest song ever, Lisa Girard’s transcendent “Sanvean.”  You can see a long, beautiful version here.  (Her gown is worth a look, too!)  Lisa Girard just breaks my heart, and then fills up the broken pieces.  This week of grey skies needed true keening like hers.  It’s been a hard year.

Another cathartic winter song on the same album is the traditional, “I Am Stretched at Your Grave,” sung here by Brendan Perry.  (For a version with a funky backbeat that you might have heard, try this one.)

And now for something completely different.  This might be obvious to you raindogs, but “November” by Tom Waits is a worthy winter anthem.  Who else but himself could sing, “Go away, you rainsnout, go away, blow your brains out…”

Here’s hoping the sun shines soon.  But if not, you know what I will be listening to.

What will get you through the chill this year?