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

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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

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A Good Home, Daughters, Family, Family Moments, Flowers, Following your dreams, Garden, Guitar Playing, Home, Joyful Moments, Learning to play the guitar, Life in canada, Mothers, Pets, play music, Verandahs

A Sweet Sound

Twang, pling. Pling twang.

Pling, twang. Pling, twang.

Pl–ung???

My daughter is learning to play the guitar.

Blog Photo - Playing guitar 1

I knew she was committed when she bought her own guitar less than a week ago.

Next she cut her beautiful fingernails. One by one.

Then she watched a YouTube tutorial and downloaded a guitar chords app.

Pling pling. Twang twang…

Blog Photo - Guitar Playing CU reverse shot

She sings softly, willing her fingers to follow her tune.

Pling, pling, twang twang, twung…. Shi….!

She senses my presence and doesn’t finish that word.

She utters a loud sigh instead, rolls her eyes, shakes her head.

Blog Photo - Guitar playing with sky reflected

I’ve joined her on our farmhouse verandah. The day is crisp, cool, but beautiful. (Can you see the blue sky and evergreen spruce trees reflected on the front of her guitar?)

Birds are singing, her father’s gardening and our daughter’s little dog Mr. J.  stops and listens for a moment to the guitar playing, before running off to bark at yet another squirrel.

Blog Photo - Guitarist plays, Mr J watches

But Daughter is entirely focused on the guitar strings.

Head down, dark hair falling forward and almost covering her face, she returns to a wordless, intense concentration.

Pling, pling… 

She keeps going, singing and strumming, no mistakes this time. Even the flowers in the garden bed nearby seem to be bopping along to the tune.

Blog Photo - Tulips in garden near verandah

I applaud when she finishes.

Blog Photo - Fernleaf Peonies

In her twenties, she’s learning to play a new instrument.

How to hold it.

How to position her left hand, her right hand.

What to do when her fingertips get tender, even sore.

Soak them in cider vinegar,she says.

“Oh!” I’m surprised to learn there’s yet another use for cider vinegar. “The thing’s got as many lives as duct tape.”

“It really works!” she says, smiling. “It helps me to keep going till my fingertips toughen up. Smells awful, but it’s soothing.”

It was the same routine the day before.

Her father, who has his own guitar but hasn’t played it in almost a year, stuck his head out the door, saw her strumming and disappeared inside.

He came back a minute later with his guitar. Soon they were strumming together.

Pling pling, twang twang. Twang twang, pling pling.

Another stray twung (or maybe it was a plung) sneaked in and they started all over again.

Finally, they were playing in tune.

“We’ve got a jam-session happening right here on our verandah,” I thought.

One of life’s sweet moments.

Today, Daughter is practicing again, and — hooray, she plays the song perfectly, again!

Blog Photo - Daughter plays guitar long shot

She’s conquered the tune to this good, simple, 3-chord song for beginners.

Amazing Grace.

And I listen and think, without saying:

How sweet the sound.