Tag Archives: Hygge

Hygge Feature #18 Objects of Happiness

Most people have some small possessions of little monetary value, but great joy is attached to them, either because they please the senses or because they are associated with a happy memory or a loved person. Using and touching these things enables the owner to enjoy a sense of living in the moment, which is a key aspect of hygge.

Cupboard

I, who’ve inherited nothing, except
this nose more arched than a harp,
these hips made to cradle a life,
find in these old things enough
to still my quivering beak, which
pricks in every direction of a map;
enough to soothe the soup of my belly,
which craves to feed to lips of a babe.

Be still. These delicate, finely-wrought
treasures live in a cupboard that’s cradle-
sized. My eyes sip at them daily,
when making tea, or slipping the coats
from potatoes. Two cruets, as white as
atoms; twin egg cups, as blue as forever.
The bowls I bought back in Kyoto,
black and red, lacquered like beads.


A glass patterned with the queen
of hearts, fashioned by hand in the
50s. An iron teapot, for ceremonies
by kimono-clad women, or samurai.
Is there a difference? I twirl my knife
and hum, keep my pattern of daily
ritual before these sitting things,
their bodies as sturdy as Buddhas.

Cleared from the homes of the dead,
they are small joys which, in my
small world, loom large. The dust
which rests on them, settles me.
Relics and remnants, shy souvenirs;
yet their presence calms as I cut carrots,
slice bread, my bird nose inert for a
minute, my stomach quiet for a time.

Mab Jones
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Photo credit: Mab Jones

Her Sewing Box

Propeller bias binding, a packet each of white, royal blue and pink,

3 yards, unopened, cellophaned and colour-fast; a strip of Velcro;

Best Brass Pins, Lillikins, stabbed through their Wreath & Lion sheet;

Cards of silver poppers; two more of hooks and eyes; a buckle blank;

Nylusta nylon stocking thread, extra fine, colour eight;

Petersham and Rufflette tape; a pair of scissors, plated gold,

Shaped like a peering stork; a crochet hook; some lace;

A Gold Flake tin, crammed tight with dark grey mending wool,

Two khaki buttons, five brass, a length of purple ribbon;

A dozen silver thimbles, each cupped inside the next

And wrapped in tissue; a twist of jet black bugle beads;

Large safety pins in silver and smaller ones in gold;

A sheet of iron-on transfers – a lamb, a dog, a horse;

A bodkin; bobbins; a quick unpick; a shuttered zip;

The old French knitting doll, with half-worn smile;

Babies’ buttons shaped as trains and stars and berries;

And so much thread – Coats and Sylko, Drima, Anchor, Gutermann –

In party colours, scarlet, turquoise, rose. And so much thread.

Angi Holden

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Hygge Feature #17 Coming in from the cold and dark

Being outdoors in the cold and coming home makes hygge more intense. A bowl of soup, a warm fire and the tingle of warmth returning to frozen hands and feet – it’s almost worth going outside for! Marion Clarke, from Northern Ireland, sent me this beautiful poem/photo, which inspired today’s post.

icy-twilight

white fire

the silence of me looking out
at the world from the doorway
and you looking at me looking out
letting in the cold and not minding for once

the icing sugar coating over so many
houses, sheds and cars, quilting
the fields, the snow still falling
softly now, lazily, every flake

taking its time, enjoying the last
freshets of air whilst deciding
where and how to kiss the ground
or the fence post or the branch or

another snowflake – the silence beckons –
but slowly, I balance on the threshold
unsure whether to go walk in the crisp
snow and footprint a new story on the

world or turn back to the
warmth within, back to the open
fire of spitting logs
and blushing coal and sofa chairs

that sink a little and swallow your
weight, but the indecision
is also delicious – the inbetween
-ness of outside, inside, and you looking

at me looking at the world

Bethany Rivers

.

Hygge

Glasgow 2017

 

The house is cold after our absence

no heat, bustle of people

lonely.

 

Taking down the flour, I start a soda bread

sifting, bicarb, pinch salt, last week’s milk

 

The smell expands conjures childhood

comfort, a warm slice with butter

kettle on.

 

Rain beats on my window, dark descends.

The house envelops me, home.

 

 Rona Fitzgerald

 

 

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Hygge Feature #13 Domestic Delights

The simple joys of home: a bunch of daffodils, a bowl of hyacinths, blue and white pottery, candlelight and starlight, all can lift the spirits without expense. Today I have chosen one of mine, previously unpublished, because it goes so well with this photo and Maureen’s hyacinths, and Brian Johnstone’s meditative poem rounds off beautifully.

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Photo Credit: Lucy Byrne

 

Midnight Robin

 

While the sky shimmers like shot silk,
chimney pots a toothy smile,
I count the pots, 1 2 3 4 5.

On my kitchen table, sheets and sheets
of screwed up poems,
I will flatten them tomorrow
for shopping lists.

While perfumed smells of hyacinths
bring memories of my mother:
‘they make lovely Christmas presents’
she would say, as she potted and tended …

The evening moves along
as evenings do…
The moon a half golden bracelet.
The sky cluttered with stars.

All is still, no cars, no trains.
And in this stillness
the midnight robin sings.

Maureen Weldon

First appeared in her pamphlet Midnight Robin, published by Poetry Space (2014)

 

January

This is the still time of year.
The snows have gone,
melting back into the atmosphere.
Not even snowdrops dare to break
the frosty earth. Indoors in their china bowl
paper-white narccissi sail like stars
against the window’s glossy black glass,
unnatural, forced from the bulb too soon.
The new year’s bombs lie undetonated.
Storms must be weathered.
This is the still time of night.
I am trying to unbury the past,
to find flowers still hidden in the bulb,
this time to nurture them.

Angela Topping

 

HERMITAGE
Mrs Baxter’s Lang Rig, St Andrews

The sense of habitation
this stone-built structure gives
has married three to one,

placed human souls
between the meat and wine,
with fire to warm and candlelight

to talk or dine by, here
where garden gives to orchard
and the walls protect.

This simple grasp of needs sets
pigeon boles in tiers to fill
the attic space with burbled song,

the while to raise
as fowl. The table waits below.
Beneath its feet the vaulted cellar

houses vintage upon vintage
labelled, racked, awaiting hands
to pair them to the meal,

to light the wick and kindle flame,
to feast on what this space
has stored against

the cold of winter, summer heat,
the fuss and bustle
of the house and its affairs

all left behind, deferred
to this retreat inhabited by ghosts
conversing, raising up a glass.

Brian Johnstone

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Hygge Feature #12: Baby, it’s cold outside

“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful… ” When it snows, the world looks clean and bright, unless you have to drive in it. Snow looks best viewed from the window, although this photo was taken from the top of Billinge Lump,  by me. Today’s poems are coming in out of the cold and getting cosy, or watching the snow from indoors.

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Upper Wharfedale

At first, just grey, the sky snow-laden,
and far-off sheep like stones on winter fells.
An old man, moleskinned-up and twine cinched,
times his bootsteps to the drub of a gale, the rub
of a collie, close and low, gathering shadows
in her wall-eyed squint.

Cloud, loosed from drystoned horizons,
blows across lead-mines, through the marsh,
swabbing tractor gouges, hoof-poached peat,
the upturned, blackened face of soil.
Hear curlew madrigals, lapwing decussate the mist,
an old man coughing, nipped to his core.

Grey houses, hunkered under ferny crags,
impervious to rain and storm, to swirl and flood
of windslapped river, to fallen willow creeled
beneath a stone-arched bridge where cows once trod,
home for the milking, reds and whites
with fondant eyes.

A boy, who taunted the Angus bull
with stick and cat-calls, who barely lived
to brag another day, pulls broken crayfish traps
from underneath the half drowned stepping-stones,
his brick-red, scarred reflection wavering
in pools and eddies.

Sweet stink of mistle and, resting by the wall,
redundant milk-churns, lipped white with fungus,
plump haloes of stars. Among the ash trees,
through the wych elms, all about the ancient
wet woods, jackdaws swagger, gather twigs
to drop down unprotected stacks.

A wood-stove dissipates the chill, flames flower
through gloom, like strewn geraniums, warm
cold, wet feet and shiny, chilblained fingers
and everything is reddened, drying, thawed.
A long-night moon bestrides the dale, snow settles,
and a home bound vixen shrieks.

Lesley Quayle

 

Snow Globe       

Look, look, I call,
come and look
through the window.

You’re there
in half a minute,
pull back the curtains.

It’s snowing
softly, suddenly,
cloud-fall of crystals

meshing, balancing
their own weight,
feathering brick walls,

blossoming on kerbsides,
embroidering wheelie
bins with bridal white.                                     .

One shake of the sky
and we’re outside
looking in,

our breath
misting
the glass.

Sheila Jacob

 

Some seek the fire,
I seek the moon

Winter’s sharp cold
clarifies skies, inner thoughts.
Just when we think it is most cruel,
winter drapes bare branches in
garments of frosty glory.

Inside, most sit by fire’s light
seeking its warm glow
warmth as an inner respite
from, an antidote to
outside’s cold.

Though inside, I’m
by the window
watching snow fall,
flake by flake
down silver paths set by
moonlight endowing
my lawn with the rainbow
glow of light on frost, glorying
in cold comfort.

Joan Leotta

 

 

 

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Hygge Feature #11 The Joy of Old Things

Things passed down to us with love, which might be shabby and old, but are imbued with the sense of the people who gave them to us, are very hygge. Hygge is not about posh or pretentious things, or trying to impress others.

 

Hand- me-down

 

This wool has time travelled,

from pine-needled hillside,

to walking with a work bag,

carded, spun, as easily

as the way you  firesided stories.

Gone now, but your grasp on things

remains, hexagoned in lyric cloth,

ancestral needles, salmon leaping,

working much harder than needed.

This rainbow shroud,

worked by a woman and a wife,

my mother’s mother,

now it takes on a different slant.

I dream of your bright hearth,

Rayburn, and toasting fork;

you leave this blanket,

to draw me close, whisper me home.

 

Alison Jones

 

Snugglebunks Woollywoof

Chunky knit, oat-coloured Snugglebunks Woollywoof
flumped in his rocking-chair, next to the fire.
His eyes – one button, one toggle – were wobbly;
his kapok-stuffed brain was starting to worry;
his star-patterned Fair Isle jumper was fraying
and coming apart at the seams.

He thought that, probably, he should be slimmer,
or brighter, like toys with circuits and wires;
flasher, somehow, so Barbie would notice him;
faster, so he could beat Ken at Scalextric;
neon and zingy, like hair on a Troll,
or basically: somebody else.

Then the glow from the fire lit up the bright silver
frame round the portrait of his oldest friend.
He heard her voice saying, “You silly old Snugglebunks,
wanting the stars from the sky! I’ve caught some
and knitted them in to your Fair Isle jumper
so you can remember you’re loved.

Then Snugglebunks Woollywoof laughed at himself
and his blanket-stitch mouth turned back up at the sides.
His eyes – one button, one toggle – were smiling,
his velvet-lined ears were perked-up and waggling.
He thanked the stars he’d been made just for cuddling
and the flames danced a jig in the grate.

 
Louisa Campbell

 

Photo credit: Alison Jones15995910_10206334164673210_1154138137_n

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Hygge Feature #11:Promises of Spring

Today’s photo is by Sally Evans, of the first spring flowers in her garden in Scotland. It has inspired today’s aspect. In winter, while enjoying the warmth indoors, planning for spring, such as what vegetable seeds to plant for the allotment, and observing early spring flowers, leads us to gently anticipate the joys to come, while still living in the now. Likewise, as in one of these poems, memories of the previous summer keep us warm, and in some cases preserved in wine, jams and honey, keep us well fed too.

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Honeycomb

Around me the intense buzzing of the bee
busy on the yellow rue blossoms,
gathering future honey for the hive;

the sun high in the blue haze of sky
sending light and shadow
in patterns on the grey stone wall;

colours and fragrances
freshly manifest among the green –
purple lavender and sage,
vibrant lobelia blue, rose pink.

The young ash waves his leaves
greeting the crazily skimming swifts,
music seeps from the house next door
and the black cat rolls in rapture on the path.

Meanwhile I sit here,
busily gathering words
and storing summer’s sweetness
to spread on winter days.

Hilaire Wood

An invitation

Do you remember that first glass
of Vouvray? That tingle? A little bit of bite?
My garden’s like that today, everything
opening up. It smells of growth,
as warmth releases little puffs
of energy from every stretching stem.

We’ll walk along the narrow path
so you can feel the forms of leaf
and twig on either side. And then
the lawn, how your steps compress it.
It does no harm; it springs back
after we’ve gone.

Listen to the wind pushing through
the birch trees, moaning in the wires,
notice how the sun’s heat
switches on and off – cloud shutters.
Then we’ll sit, sheltered, and talk,
my cat in your lap or mine,
and we’ll try to make sense
of our separate worlds.

Colin Will

Eloquence
What is eloquent is the passing moment and the moment that will come after it.
Maurice Blanchot

This time, like all the other times, the sun
dips, darkens the face of the island, turns
the green of the cypresses black, the planes
this ill-defined grey. You’re taking time out

on the quayside, wondering what makes this
autumn, the light still cutting the water
to crystal, hazing the line of the hills.
When a ferry boat chugs from the mooring,

you follow its wake across to the shore
where you see it: there’s smoke in the forest;
men burning the branches they lopped, turning
the old growth to ash, this summer’s leavings

to powder and paste that the rains will sift
into the soil.  It’s then that you notice
the bells have something to say. Late and still
counting, they’re filing the season away.

Brian Johnstone

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Hygge Feature #10: Tea

An important part of hygge is hot drinks. The Danes prefer coffee but tea is the UK favourite. It’s where we turn in times of trouble, visitors and happiness, for our comfort.

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Where I was

It was one of
those days when it was good
to be indoors, when just

sipping black tea from a spotted
cup was enough.
The news was hushed.

He didn’t want to tell us;
once he’d said it
it would be real.

And afterwards, it snowed.
The whole window-frame
was filled with it. So soft,

each flake touched
the window, as if
it had never been.

Carole Bromley

 

Rosie

 

As hot as I can stand it,
just like a builder would drink,
leaning at your counter top,
giving you a quote for your kitchen.
The colour of varnish.
Mahogany, it travels through my veins,
pockets in my stomach like a posset,
heats my extremities.
Warms the cockles.
It’s sweet, much too sweet –
but I find that I need the sugar,
crave the saccharine.
Warm and milky,
swirled and spooned –
my mouth is a cave,
flushed with a sea of it.

Jane Burn

 

Dad’s Tea

Gave up milk and sugar in the war, long before I was born,
came to prefer his dark bitter brew. Couldn’t abide it weak:
if he could see white china at the bottom, he’d send it back
to the pot for further steeping. In vain I tried to get the spoon
standing up for him. The last one poured was always his.

We knew how to drink tea in our house. Countless cups of it
punctuated the day, from the early morning bedside one
to his enquiry every evening at nine: would you like a cup of tea?
before mother went to bed and he clocked off tea-making.
Tea was the reaction to every crisis, arrival and departure.

One evening, I listened to Under Milk Wood on the radio
in my room, wrapped in a blanket. He brought me tea,
a bowl of milky porridge, glistening with brown sugar.
Tea was the last thing he drank before he died:
I had carried a cup to him, strong and hot, rattling on its saucer.

Tea was the way we loved each other, the way he treated me,
and gentled my mother, with scones just out of the oven,
new bread and blackberry jam, apple pie. Easier than words
which made him trip and stumble since his childhood stammer.
Our tea cosy was stained brown where it snugged the spout.

Angela Topping

from Hearth (Mother’s Milk Books 2015)

 

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