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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Do like the Danes and find your Happy Hygge

 

As November approaches in Canada, that time of year between coloured leaves and sparkling snow, we prepare ourselves for the bleakness. To lessen the depressing effect of the damp chill that is coming, set yourself up for some good old-fashioned “Hygge” in your home.

The Danish cultural tradition of “Hygge” (pronounced “HOO-ga”) refers to the practice of gettin’ cozy. It’s about pulling ALL the pillows and blankets out of the linen closet and making yourself a huge nest in the corner of the overstuffed couch, in front of the fire, with a hot drink and a good book. Hygge is about lighting a scented candle and padding about the house in your flannel pj’s and slippers while your homemade soup simmers on the stove. But it’s much more than that. Hygge is about being in touch with your surroundings, whether they are indoors or out. It’s about building yourself a tiny piece of sanctuary – a retreat from the world.

If you’re truly looking to experience a moment of Hygge in your busy day, you need to eliminate distractions for a moment. Don’t worry – you only need about 15 minutes of Hygge to feel a positive, relaxing effect. So put your phone away, turn the radio and TV off and close your laptop. Find your comfy spot, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of your own breathing. Try to spend 3 to 5 minutes concentrating on nothing but the sounds inside your own body.

Hygge doesn’t have to be indoors. Maybe you feel more relaxed when you are in the great outdoors. This season might need a little help, so think about where you might be able to get yourself next to a source of heat like an outdoor fireplace or heater. Steal another tradition from the Scandinavians and heat a cheese sandwich over the flame. Just do yourself a favour and use quality sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese. It should be a complete experience for the senses.

You would think that Canadians have their own version of Hygge. Of course we do. It’s anything that you do that blocks out worry or stress. Like taking a bubble bath. Take a walk, or bike ride, or mystery tour in your car. Take time for some Hygge every day.

The best way to amplify the effects of your Hygge is to share it with others. During Covid that might mean picking up the phone (I know, but I’ll make an exception in this case) and calling a family member or friend. If it’s safe to gather in small bunches, consider inviting a few close friends or family over for a walk in the woods. Bring a thermos of cider or tea, and make sure you make plenty of stops, to listen to the forest around you. Breathe in the earth smells. Listen for the sounds of burrowing animals.

Practice regularly, all winter long. Happy Hygge.

-30-

 


Monday, October 19, 2020

Bird in the House

The cats told me there was something in the ductwork. The three of them were sitting on top of the boxed Christmas decorations in the basement, meowing and leaping, knocking garlands and ornaments to the floor in an attempt to reach the ceiling. Junior, feeling agile, managed to launch himself up and onto the ductwork. I don’t know how much weight that stuff can hold so I shooed him back down. The object of their interest was making a fair amount of noise in the tin and causing a great deal of feline excitement.

I told my husband I suspected something was trapped in the ductwork, again. It has happened at least three times before. Following the noise, I pulled the end off the pipe and the bird flew out to sit on a pair of cross country skis braced over the rafters. As usual the Farmer was no help whatsoever. He came downstairs, grabbed a broom and started waving it at her.

“What exactly is that supposed to accomplish??” I asked, exasperated. I directed him to stand back, as I turned out the lights and climbed up onto the shelving to reach the basement window. As the only source of light it was an obvious exit, if she could reach it before the cats did. She did.

“Now will you get someone to climb the roof and fix the screen on that chimney?” My husband doesn’t do roof climbing. He is not fond of heights. So we have a few spots that need attention before winter, if we don’t want to welcome other wild houseguests.

Some people say it is good luck to have a bird in the house. Others say it means a change is going to come. Still others believe it is a bad omen, or a sign that death is coming. It certainly has been a sign of death coming to the birds, anyway. This one was lucky that I was home to hear her in the inner workings of the ducts. Others have not been so lucky. I’m just glad it was a bird and not a squirrel. Those things freak me out.

But wait – I looked it up and apparently a squirrel in the house OR ON YOUR BED is a sign that you should let go of useless thoughts and forge ahead with your plans. A squirrel ATTACK is a sign that you will soon be blessed with luxury and a special relationship.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think having wild rodents in your home is an attractive quality in a person. Occasionally I hear a squirrel or some other little beast in the attic. We tried putting a live trap up there but they didn’t bite. We had better get a handle on this situation before winter. The last thing I need is some animal giving birth to an entire litter of critters between the walls of our house.

-30-??” I asked, exasperated. I directed him to stand back, as I turned out the lights and climbed up onto the shelving to reach the basement window. As the only source of light it was an obvious exit, if she could reach it before the cats did. She did.

“Now will you get someone to climb the roof and fix the screen on that chimney?” My husband doesn’t do roof climbing. He is not fond of heights. So we have a few spots that need attention before winter, if we don’t want to welcome other wild houseguests.

Some people say it is good luck to have a bird in the house. Others say it means a change is going to come. Still others believe it is a bad omen, or a sign that death is coming. It certainly has been a sign of death coming to the birds, anyway. This one was lucky that I was home to hear her in the inner workings of the ducts. Others have not been so lucky. I’m just glad it was a bird and not a squirrel. Those things freak me out.

But wait – I looked it up and apparently a squirrel in the house OR ON YOUR BED is a sign that you should let go of useless thoughts and forge ahead with your plans. A squirrel ATTACK is a sign that you will soon be blessed with luxury and a special relationship.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think having wild rodents in your home is an attractive quality in a person. Occasionally I hear a squirrel or some other little beast in the attic. We tried putting a live trap up there but they didn’t bite. We had better get a handle on this situation before winter. The last thing I need is some animal giving birth to an entire litter of critters between the walls of our house.

-30-