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.
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.
Or Advent, the 24-day period of anticipation before Christmas.
Advent summons a slow and certain joy, a reflective joy, one that grows as it approaches its destination — the big, jubilant joys of Christmas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We light the first fire.
We make the first Autumn soup — butternut squash and apple — and the first pies.
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.
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