I am enjoying my latest writing assignment as part of a UK team looking at the Danish concept of hygge. It is a challenge to try see the world through the eyes of a different culture. There are some strong parallels between life on a Scottish island and the reach for a hygge moment in your day. Hygge is a moment where you experience comfort and a strong feeling of wellbeing. It can last a few minutes or much longer but I have learnt quickly that you have to integrate it into your life – you certainly don’t bolt it on. For me, living on a Scottish island is often about the pursuit of hygge and I admit to opting out in favour of those hygge moments. I find mainland UK living a strain on my senses and very being now and so rarely leave the island. The island allows me to opt out of the noise, the busy crowds and the stress but I do not live a hygge moment every moment. I can’t escape the stresses that sometimes come with being a mum or a times when work gets on top of me despite my best efforts. What I am thankful for is that these everyday stresses are limited here and since discovering the pursuit of hygge I feel far more in control of my own happiness.
Without realising, I was quite far the hygge integration process as I walk every day, light candles as the light fades, drink warming drinks by the fire and, of course sew. I write letters to friends, make handmade birthday presents, have coffee with friends and journal. These are all good examples where hygge has a chance to breathe and exist in your day. But, as with all good things, there is more to be done and this writing assignment has given me the perfect excuse. The missing hygge experience for me has been that of flowers. I use to grow cut flowers and sell them but since I gave that up I miss my fragrant flowers. A scentless bunch from the supermarket does not come close for me. So I have my seed catalogues by my rocking chair and in my late afternoon break as the fire is lit I am going to plan a brand new cut flower bed…just for me. That is not strictly true as I love to give tussie mussies to friends and family as wee gifts. They date back to Elizabethan times and consist of a small posy of flowers chosen for their meanings. The Victorians loved this wee tradition and many a love affair began this way. Just before Christmas I did my first flower workshop for quite some time and realised just how much I missed it. I love seeing others fall in love with flowers and learn how to treat them well to allow for blooms for the weeks to come. I also used to dry flowers for dried posies and could do much more of that if I made the time for it.
I got all these insights on my morning walk this morning as a wee robin crossed my path and decided to stay with me until I sat on the boardwalk by the beach and watch him skip about by my feet. In this small, but wonderful journey with my robin I saw the lack of flowers in my life as so incredibly important. Wise moments with my robin.
I am not sure the world could ever thank the Danes enough for hygge and I am already fiercely protective over the concept. I see it popping us a marketing tool to sell expensive cashmere jumpers and my blood slowly starts to boil. I have just looked out my window and seen another robin but he is resident and guards his patch of newly dug earth with passion. We all need to be as passionate as robins.