It’s sunny out, but there’s a wind that catches the sign outside and makes a moaning noise now and again. The wind’s not in the right direction to push the door open, thank Goodness, or the ceiling tiles would be rising and falling like waves at the beach.
The passers-by have coats on, jackets rather than heavy winter coats, and some have a warm jumper rather than a jacket. I’ve got my cardigan on which slides on and off as the temperature takes me. It’s still spring. It’s definitely not summer.
But there is just enough heat in the sun to make me feel that there will be a summer soon. Just enough lift in the breeze to let me feel positive that the flowers will bloom, the sun will shine and April will become May with a hint of love and laughter.
There must be enough of a hint of summer to get me thinking ahead. I’ve grabbed my copy of How to Hygge Your Summer and I’m rereading it, reminding myself of those very-many ideas I fill my books with. I published this book last summer, last May, actually, as a response to what I saw as the drop-off in interest in hygge. Hygge, you see, was very much seen as a winter activity: about cosy blankets, socks and warming cups of tea.
Balderdash. The Scandinavians don’t see hygge as a winter activity (or lack of activity). They see hygge as an emotion that you can feel all the year around. Yes, the conditions in winter are more conducive to a hyggely state, with cold weather outside and indoors warmth helping to create that cosy feeling, but hygge is so much more than about being warm, or mindful, or still.
Take it from Bronte, who is Danish and knows a thing or two about hygge, and it becomes clear that hygge isn’t a seasonal thing. So, here are my top tips for boosting your fair weather hygge:
- Take your hygge nook outside as much as possible. You do have a seat outside somewhere, don’t you? If you have a garden, then having a space to sit and watch the fauna and flora can be most relaxing. Have room for two or three people at a time and hygge is almost certain to happen in those quiet moments as you sip a cool beer and contemplate the wonder of a caterpillar. Store your cushions and a washable throw in a basket near the door, and you are ready to respond to the slightest chill. It’s my 50th birthday in May and I am getting an arbour as my present.
- Eat outside. There is something special about eating even your breakfast or your post-work snack outside. If you’re a homeworker, it’s easy simply to sit on your front doorstep (with a cushion to comfort your posterior) and nibble as the world passes by. In the office, you might need to work on finding a space that is close enough to be convenient and calm enough to be relaxing. The wall outside a busy McDonalds is probably not a good place, but a bench in a quiet square or courtyard could be.
- Disconnect, especially when you’re with friends. Put the phone down, or better still leave it at home and engage with the people around you whether you are playing in the park, walking the neighbourhood or sitting on the beach. You live in the present, so enjoy it.
- Grow something. I have black thumbs, seriously. Plants look at me and die. As I told my daughter this weekend, I’m like Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense, except I see dead plants, not people. The ultimate shame of this is that I love flower gardens and planted displays, I just lack the skill/influence to make mine grow. It doesn’t stop me trying. In my bag at the moment are a packet of nasturtium seeds and a packet of sunflower seeds. both of which I have been assured will grow whatever. We’ll see. I am living in hopes that this year I will buck my own trend and produce something from seed. Failing that, I have friends who are skilfull gardeners and I shall go and appreciate their gardens in hyggely companionship.
- Do Nothing. We spend our time as human doings, racing from place to place with a great fear of missing out. It is, as the Italians put it, dolce far niente, or sweet to do nothing and take pleasure in idleness. Actually act like a human being for once, just sit and enjoy the company, conversation and comestibles. (You don’t know how hard it can be to find a word for food starting with c, just to complete the power of three)
- Keep gatherings small (no more than 5 or 6 people) and informal, relaxed and light. And celebrate everything. Life is too short not to throw a party even for an envelope opening. This summer I have my 50th, my son’s 18th, A level results, GCSE results, my husband (hopefully) becoming a Notary Public, the Royal Wedding, the World Cup, all worthy of a small gathering of family or friends, apart from generally loving life and being happy to be alive, both of which are well worth celebrating just because. With some alcohol and food as simple as a few pizzas or a barbecue, we’ll be celebrating until Autumn comes!
How to Hygge Your Summer contains my advice on having a hyggely time at home and outside, and is available in ebook and paperback version. I also think the principles of enjoying life and making the most of small details is an important part of what makes me Happier, also available from Amazon! You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of the blog.
And my planning ahead? Well, I’m tidying and planting my garden with hope once more, getting some material to make new cushion covers ready for the long evenings and beginning to pin summer hygge activities on my Pinterest boards. I’ve even written my Garden Plans list in my notebook. Here’s hoping the weather stays good for the Bank Holiday next weekend!