A Good Home, Nature, The Seasons

! — Oh, Joy!

Did you know?

Our exclamation mark (!) is believed to come from the medieval Latin exclamation of joy: “io”.  

Some clever scribe reportedly put the ‘i’ above the ‘o’!  It became an exclamation sign to denote ‘admiration’, ‘wonderment’ or ‘joy’.  An ancient ’emoji’ icon. ♥♥

Did you also know? The exclamation mark didn’t have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, then backspaced, then typed an apostrophe above it. 

Joy and Other Words For It in Italian and English

la gioia: Joy, delight, enjoyment, rejoicing, glee, mirth

il gaudio: Happiness, joy

la delizia : Delight, joy

la felicità:  Felicity, joyousness

la letizia: Joy, happiness

il giubilo: Jubilation, joy, glee

la contentezza: Contentment, gladness, joy, cheerfulness


As you can tell — I’ve been thinking about joy.

The absence of it – a thing to be dreaded, as I well know – but mostly the heart-filling presence of it.  Joy.

Blog Photo - Autumn Leaves Early

Blame it on the first days of Autumn, a season which — at least in its early appearances — brings me a bitter-sweet feeling of happy anticipation and hovering loss.  

Winter has its joys.  Quiet joys, like a walk in a wintry forest. 

Blog Photo - Cardinal in Snow

Or Advent, the 24-day period of anticipation before Christmas.

Blog Photo - Christmas -Advent Calendar

Advent summons a slow and certain joy, a reflective joy, one that grows as it approaches its destination — the big, jubilant joys of Christmas.

Blog Photo - BOAA Christmas village church

Spring makes me want to jump for joy.  The giddy celebration of Winter’s end; the sight of new shoots and flowers, the urge to thrust hands into the earth. It’s a barely-restrained joy, a can’t- wait-to-see-what-will-pop-up-from-the-earth-next kind of joy.

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

For some, Summer’s joy is the thing.  Outdoor activities like walking, swimming, paddling; visiting with friends.  The delight of being on holidays.  Sitting outdoors in a garden, perhaps reading a book  — or not.  

Blog Photo - garden Sept 2018 chairs and pool

One feels no guilt at being idle. La dolce far niente, as the Italians say. Sweet Idleness. Or: “La gioia di non fare nulla”. The joy of doing nothing. 

But Autumn: Autumn is in a class all its own. 

Blog Photo - Autumn Leaves CU

That awe-struck joy I feel when I stand in the woods, looking at the sky through a curtain of red, gold, and orange leaves.

Blog Photo - Autumn Trees 2

When I look down at the same colours on the forest floor… interrupted only by the grey-brown of tree trunks, or a rock, or a squirrel. Or me, kicking my foot through a pile of leaves and watching them fly. 

Indoors, we pull out the old Hudson’s Bay blanket.

Blog Photo - Old Blanket

We light the first fire.

Blog Photo - Christmas 2016 - Logs Burning

We make the first Autumn soup — butternut squash and apple — and the first pies.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

And then the first big family event of the fall: Thanksgiving dinner. The joy of extended family, together. 

Almost always, someone says: “Let’s take a drive to see the colours!” We pile into cars, happy and excited as small children on a Sunday afternoon drive.

Blog Photo - Autumn trees and Driveway

Joy.  That thing that fills the heart to bursting, the thing that makes me pinch myself in wonder.

Wonder, astonishment, and gratitude, at the familiarity and newness of it all. That the earth can be so beautiful, so glorious, and that I am so fortunate to live on this planet, in this place, at this time.


Photos by Hamlin Grange



57 thoughts on “! — Oh, Joy!”

  1. Love that Boston Ivy picture,just perfect-I would buy a poster, Hamlin! Fall has an entirely different meaning for me, joyfully welcomed for the end of steamy summer, hurricanes and the beginning of our gardening season.

    1. I hear you, and I can imagine the cooler days of autumn would be such a relief from a steamy summer. I enjoy and appreciate the Canadian seasons. If winter were two months shorter, I’d be even happier!

  2. I am so grateful for all the joy of this post. And I am sure I must have been Italian in a former life because this is my idea of joy. ‘ La dolce far niente, as the Italians say. Sweet Idleness. Or: “La gioia di non fare nulla”. The joy of doing nothing’. Also, I did not know about the exclamation mark. What a lovely history it has. !!!!!!!!!

      1. Indeed! And, I, of course, am incredibly ignorant about most things Spanish. But see how much joy my ignorance eventually provided. 😀

  3. I’ll share this morning’s joy: stopping to watch a doe and two fawns cross the road in the pre-dawn darkness; seeing that the sumac leaves are turning their glorious red.

    Thank you for sharing yours.

  4. Beautiful words are like a breath of fresh air. We are indeed fortunate to live on this glorious planet… and I do what I can to help keep it that way.

  5. Apple with butternut sounds a great soup. I must remember to hold onto some of my apples till the squash are ripe.

    Yes, isn’t autumn such a joyful time of year 🍂🍁

  6. An ode to joy! Your words remind us to be thankful for every season. Fall is special for me as it means at least it will not be as hot as summer! And we won’t need a fire for months. A joyous post!!!!!!! Thanks for the new information. Enjoyed the photos too!

  7. I’ve been thinking about autumn and why I love it so much . . . and, here, you’ve expressed it so well! I agree that all seasons can bring joy but my heart really soars on a fine autumn day.

  8. I love this joyful post, Cynthia! You are very persuasive; maybe I will find some joy rather than wistful sadness this autumn. Hamlin’s photographs get better and better!

    1. I’ll pass on the compliment, Clare. Thank you. Meanwhile, as you know, those uplifting posts are meant as much for me as for you. It’s a way of reminding myself, even preaching to myself.

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