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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Hygge Feature #9 of Food and Nurturing

Two things which embody Hygge for me are: food lovingly made to share, and mothers. One does not need to have given birth to be a mother. Some people are naturally nurturing, and it is people like that I am thinking of. People who make your favourite food because you are coming to see them, and who share freely.

My Mother’s Chemistry

experiments in the oven,
a laboratory of smells,
of textures, of flavours.

cakes with earthquake crusts,
oozing moist chocolate,
scenting the 4.30 kitchen

just as we came home,
a chaos of satchels, duffle bags
bumping, stilled by aromas.

Apple pies with pastry roses,
yellow silken custard pooled
in the folds of the petals.

And Christmas, oh Christmas
in her kitchen, a harmony of spices,
of hot rum in the cake,

of brandy in the mince pies,
the once a year chicken
with oozing, pimpled skin,

my mothers’ maths was division,
five cuts, large for Dad, small for her,
three perfect angles for us.

I won’t make bread – she said,
suspicious of yeast movements
– no telling where it will end.

Vivien Jones

Poem with a Satsuma in it

There is no sunset can rival
the particular shade of its skin

no sunrise the pimpled texture
no noon-glow the zing.

There can never be too many
satsumas in poems,

each segment a stanza,
every metaphor a pip.

I open a book of them
and my mouth waters

even before I’ve tasted
the opening line.

My grand-daughter
can’t say the word,

just points
more, more, more

 Carole Bromley
(first published in The Stonegate Devil Smith/Doorstop)

 

Harvest

My mother fed my father
home-grown berries lifted
from their beds of soft, pale straw.
She picked them, washed them,
packed them in a tub, brought them
from his garden where they grew.
Visiting times, she chattered
and fussed as she dipped them
one by one in unbleached sugar.
It was early in June,
the weather was warm.
The fruits of his last days
were passing sweet.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

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Hygge Feature #8 Outdoors/Indoors

Can hygge be outside? Yes it can, because whenever we go indoors from a chilly outdoors, hygge is needed for comfort. A winter walk followed by a bowl of homemade soup; a cup of tea after doing some gardening; a settling down after a journey. All these are hygge. I’ve arranged these three poems seasonally, starting with a very cold haibun, and a spring poem, then a poem looking at a tree in different seasons and finding comfort there.

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Photo by Angela Topping

SUB-ZERO

It’s Boxing Day, noon.  And down “The Shroppie”, a mile below Bunbury, a solitary narrowboat lies trapped against the bank in ice and snow.  The boatman, a cheery soul, chops logs.  Only the fragrant woodsmoke from his boat’s stove mars the dazzling white.

Now a large hare scurries, skidding, over the frozen canal with a buzzard in pursuit.  They vanish from view but a thin cry will plague our snuggling boatman until taken by a good malt, curtains drawn.

in the golden glow
of a log fire
jugged hare is served, amen

Paul Beech

Note: “The Shroppie” is an affectionate name for the Shropshire Union Canal.

  Small things

Sweet smell of hay smokes around my nostrils,
giggles there like the unexpected wash of wine,
that first gentle giddy in unsuspecting blood stream

I walk a little further only to see the distant house
where a man is dying from what started as tiny cells,
where his wife is bits and pieces busy coping out of love

Snowdrops are everywhere – fly-tipped, forgotten,
now defying, gambling, growing against the grain,
extending their small odds in confident clumps

Then some baby daffodils moulded in miniature –
all the more appealing for being smaller versions,
grander for their pride in being perfect little copies

Finally I am home. Warm bathing me at the door
because you are there. No fuss – simply in our home,
quiet greeting, gentle smile wrapping around me

These the small things firing neurons below skin
What we feel at any moment in a lifetime mesh,
gathering the small, the significantly tiny atoms

Pat Edwards

 

The Beech

Beneath sapphire summer skies
its canopy shimmered ruby light
each leaf a drop of blood shed
transferred from battle to the sky

Now the year is growing slight
the slanting sun catches clustered
leaves; hanging still despite the wind
that snatches, hurls handfuls with
armoured hands to sodden ground.

The canopy still shimmers gold,
a kings dinner service set upon
a banquet table of crystal light
green garlanded by evergreens,

that will remain when the gold
has fallen to the ground, turned
brown and rotted into mulch, but
still the tree will stand bare-black

revealing remnants of the homes,
the nests that nurtured nestlings
wait for winter to depart, spring
return and then again the buds

will clothe the canopy, open slowly
as the sun rises higher every day
until the canopy is copper, ruby
lit, a shelter to new life brought
by returning survivors of the flight.

Carolyn O’Connell

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Hygge Feature #6 Making

blanket

Photo by Gill Lambert

Hygge is all about home-made.What could be cosier?

Heirloom
Strands of blue, a coat she made when you
were a grainy photograph, palm-sized and puny.
Rows and rows of rainbow, from the blanket
that your little brother sat on, crawled on,
slept on; the orange matched his hair.
Three hundred stitches wide, a thousand lines,
the leftovers of clothes that fit in other peoples’ lives:
baby socks, football hats, her own soft shawl.
The browns and greys that kept it all together,
the wash-well, hard-wearing functional
she could knit with her eyes shut.

The delicate filigree in white
to wrap a bride, her shoulders sheltered
from the spring wind, there
without an invite. Twists of cable
worked with Aran from the sweaters
made for others. Mohair flitting in and out
of rows of Fair isle. Traditional
and trendy; different generations.

When you and she are of an age
to be at separate ends of life,
when your shadow passes hers
and her hand knots inside the warm ball
of your palm; you will press the edges
round her knees, your fingers finding bumps
where she sewed the ends in,
the tell-tale lumps from mended holes.
And though you’re each as different
as garter stitch or purl,
you’re made of the same ritual;
that sacred act of wrapping yarn.

Gill Lambert

 

 

 

Happy Hookers
 
It is late afternoon
and the sun slips in
to fondle our winter-pale skin.
 
We are pleased to see him
so like happy hookers
we make our eyes wide
and we smile.
 
O how we smile
as we bait our hooks,
laying out our shapes
and brightest colours.
 
Where there is such work
there is a mystery
attends it.
 
Then the sweetness
of creation
is ours.
Abigail Wyatt

Kitchen Kitsch

Grandma tying on a pinny for me.
Rough squeak of cotton strings, the pull
around my middle like a hug.
I’m dressed in 1950s kitsch.
a weird print not unlike a paper bag
to measure out the currants and the flour
the relatives look down benign for once
a lass dressed and employed in fruitful work
in patterns they’d remember
Grandma smooths the weave,
her cold hard fingers skating on the cloth.
Later I get four to take away.
I fetch a paper bag from the soft drawer,
the pattern on the paper
a weird print like a kitchen pinny
50s kitsch.

 

Rachel McGladdery

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