Wilkom in, wyld folks, and greetings to the followers of this blog. Have you noticed the stars recently, or taken time to breathe in deep draughts of fresh cool night air into your lungs? The metamorphosing treasare telling me that fall has taken our lands by the heart, and now it is going into entropy and hibernation in one last wonderful display of color… and it’s also getting a lot more hygge.
A few new forest inhabitants and some old friends have been lurking around the nest lately, the coyote gangs still howl in the crepuscular hours, and turkey vultures are scouring the aether for the weak and slow. A night possum was caught tramping around in our 1 km long driveway after a night out, and he rather awkwardly steered himself through the tall grasses towards a soy field. I’ve heard the saw-whet owl on more than one occasion, near a waterfall gorge, and in these backwoods. Fallow deer also abound, but leave mostly footfalls and prints to eschew their presence. There have been a few moments in the fortnight since the last moon turning where the mood and everything has just lined up so perfectly, where I thought just how hygge everything felt. A powerful rainstorm of sleet and mist invaded our nook in the forest, and made everything tremble and moan, I was fasting this day and safely inside, drinking homemade maple coffee and relaxing on the daybed with our feline friends. On top of a busy farm life, where I work in the land adjacent to ours, I have been soaking up some precious half hours of yoga in the nighttyme, while I deepen my practice and contemplate further training, maybe a South American pilgrimage is in order?
A certain sentiment that makes sense to me for living a thriving lifestyle is the balance of work life and hyggelig lifestyle, or as I say ‘full employment vs. full enjoyment’. This is something I have battled with in the past as our dominator, workaholic western culture always pushed people into over-overtime, and working more hours than there are in the days, or at least so they have no proper time to make wholesome meals, engage with their family, do extra-curricular activity, maintain full time schooling, etc. Sometimes I go into stints where I will work so long and hard and everyday, and really do a number on my body, and I earn a lot of money, and then I come out of it, and I am depressed, sore, and need to seek treatments, excessive company, vice, and indulgence which then eats up the money I have had. This is rare mind you, and I have only done this when life demands have been too much or I find myself in precarious hard rock places, you know them. On the other hand I then come to connect to myself in a more holistic way, and have recently stepped back from such a vigorous schedule to allow time for these other things to flourish. Maybe working three days out of the week, and during the other days in between, spending time immersed in foraging practice, nature, home projects, preparing especially good dinners, reading, enjoying music, and speaking with friends. This is the essence of hygge and often is threated by domesticity, which brings me to my next point of the challenges faces through sedentism.
When living in one place, you can’t really see the world, you are limited to a locality, and belong somewhere specific, this is for the most part nothing to turn from but there are challenges. When you have a very specific range of interests and work inclinations, it does become extremely difficult to make a living while grounded in a certain range of space. I also find that you must come up with new and novel ways to be stimulated by your landscape, in your home, your possessions, and often patterns of behavior can develop where you may neglect what is around you because it has became menial or boring. Boredom is another hard one to stave off, fortunately I enjoy and am skilled with diy projects, and wanderlust in the natural wilderness around me, so this is usually not an issue. When living with someone else however, your attentions start to become highly focused on a lot of people that are not you, and suddenly you realize that self-nourishing has skipped a pulse, and you may feel a sense of lack or annoyance. Sometimes I just want to escape again, travel to a far away country, and I am sure it will happen, but I remember why I came into this lifestyle in the first place, and see then what would be missing without it. There is always a sobering perspective hidden in there somewhere. When you are sedentary you need to have a mission, a support circle of friends and allies who will enhance your dreams, some kind of employment of your time which brings home the cash (just not so much that you don’t know what to do with it), and you need past times, ways to fill the idle hours of the evenings, or days off, or the winter months; foraging, crafting, building, fire circles, meditation, reading, study, thinking, these are all my go to’s. How you find your balance between work life and hygge, and the methods of domesticity is a kind of delicate game, but is essential for happiness.
So I’ve been gathering, not really so surprising to hear maybe, but it is always a different story, this time I have been out on a couple plant walks, solo and with others, foraging and collecting various roots, tubers, vine flowers, fruits, nuts and veggies, to name a fairly modest list; hops, sun chokes, melon, marshmallow root, black walnuts. I’ve put some of these to good use already, though I don’t recommend hop tea very much, I made some fire cider with some freshly dug horse radish from the garden, my batch of pumpkin kombucha is delicious, and I also gathered some golden birch chewsticks which have a nice wintergreen taste. I like to gather as much as I can from the land during the cycles of the season, eat some fresh and freeze, dry, powder, or preserve in some way the rest, and use it as a currency, so I can trade for things I don’t have or exotic imports that others have bought and I am not willing to pay for. I have been starting to conserve a lot more, but not only making preserves and dried edibles, but by rationing staples. I stocked up a couple weeks ago on grass fed butter because I know that the cows will soon only have corn meal, so by freezing some, and using it a bit more conservatively, I can enjoy this superfood all through winter, or at least that is the intention. The maple syrup stores from the Amish is also a highly valued sugar source, and I enjoy the conscious attention needed to keep things longer so we can enjoy them anytime, when in this age we can just go buy anything at anytime of the year, blueberries in January anyone?
This weekend I am leading a foraging plant walk with a lady friend, and have been taste testing the wild rose hips which are slowly becoming more mushy, sweet and delectable. I am looking forward to cooking some Scandinavian cuisine, and earth porridges with the nuts, berry preserves, and raw honey recently collected from the hive. I have noticed a peculiarity between my own foraging style and Julie’s, in that I tend to focus more on earth terroir, calorie rich, dense nutrient foods and fungal hosts, like nuts, acorns, mushrooms, roots for tea, and tubers for cooking. It’s a lot of food from the north. While she focuses primarily on berries, plant leaves, lighter food not necessarily high in caloric intake, and flowers. There is a balance in there that seems to work, and may go back to our ancient ancestors who lived in tribal settings and had proper division of labor.
On Ancestry, I just got my results back a few nights ago, and discovered some interesting ties to Western Europe (Belgium, France, Switz, Germany, Denmark) , the Celtic countries (Wales, Ireland, Scotland), and also lower Scandinavia like Denmark/Sweden, even some small percentage from the Mediterranean. These are all great places, though I have not traveled to every one of these countries, I am proud to hail from here, and look forward to going even deeper, further back, and maybe finding the paths that distant family went, or what impact they left on life, were any of them Viking descended, or farmers (most probably), I know there was a lot of fur trading in my lineage, and a French Canadian ilk of people in my recent line.
As the days grow dimer, our circadian rhythms stay the same, yet we start to feel more tired, earlier and earlier, and use a lot more artificial light to ignite our homes. One way to counter that is to create ambience with amber light and is something I have loved doing in the past, by switching to low color lights or amber lightbulbs that filter our blue wavelength and therefore keep us from supressing melatonin flow, therefore sleeping tight and dreaming sweetly. It is also very hygge to sit in the basking light of candles, old edison lights or fire flicker, while doing not much of anything and simply being. Try listening to the Icelandic band Mum, while you are at it, that is what I am going to do, let me know where you end up.