I spent the winter solstice with my friend Kate. She lives down, down, deep deep down in a magical valley where even the air embraces you. It’s a simple abode, so simple – perched above a barn. The bath is outside, open to the stars, and you pee in the woods.
We sat and talked, listening to the soft crackle of her woodburner, sipping prosecco and then, when the rain eased, we went outside.
‘Look at the moon’s aura,’ she said and I looked up and…
As the clouds eased back the moon sat surrounded by a huge circle, way way out.
‘Wow!’ I said.
‘I’ve never seen it so far out before,’ said Kate.
‘I’ve never seen it at all,’ I said. ‘Just…wow!’
She built a fire and the wind sent spark shivers whirling dragon-wise, and we fire-gazed, moon-gazed, night-gazed. Watched the shadows of the teazles etched like lino-cuts against the slate-blue sky. The odd star thrust through and the clouds reared and bucked, bellowed and collided.
Occasionally we talked, musing over the last year. It had been a tough one for Kate, a strange one for me and we remembered how we’d talked, the same time the year before, about the year to come. Time, eh? A curious tail-biting beast.
We pondered about how little we really wanted or needed in life. Then we talked about the things that really make life good, and they were small things, tiny things. And we traded our favourites, laughing out loud with ‘Yes!’ and ‘Oh yesssss!’
And I’ve been adding to my list ever since…
So, on the eve of the big festival of greed and grasping, here’s a list of some of my favourite things. Not the things I can’t have but the things I have in my life right now for which I’m grateful, deeply grateful.
– Clean freshly-laundered sheets. The sigh of satisfaction on climbing into a clean, fresh bed.
– Toast, hot buttered toast. Melting butter, slightly soggy.
– A deep hot bath. Up to the nose deep (yes, very un-eco, I know) with magnesium salts and some of Zena’s heavenly hand-blended just-for-me oils.
– A dog’s soft ears. Dan’s are heaven but any good dog’s will do.
– My big son’s hug – he’s the best hugger – solid, still, sweet.
– Laughter – the kind that makes your face ache.
– Tofu. Smoked sesame seed tofu.
– Rainbow prisms on leaves.
– The scent of coffee.
– Good massage. Heck, ANY massage!
– Chanting. The tingle down the spine from pristine voices.
– Lying in bed with a book and a cup of tea at weekends.
– Circuit classes. The sweat, the pain and, afterwards, the delicious ache and the sense of achievement.
– Proper conversations. The kind that make you think, that challenge you, that make you change your mind into something else.
– Curling up in the snuggly throw.
– Fire. Indoor fire. Outdoor fire. Candle fire.
– Yoga. Slow mindful yoga.
– A friend you can talk to about anything, absolutely anything. You know who you are!
– Dry roasted seeds.
– Sparkly things. The glitter of fairy lights, the shimmer of sequins, the shiver of sparkles on the Christmas tree.
– Electric blue. In fact, deep beautiful colours in general but there’s a special place in my heart for a jolt of that particular hue.
– Thumping good rock music while driving.
– Watching totally trashy TV with James. Playing imaginary drinking games for Sons of Anarchy bingo (darling, sweetheart, baby). Not looking at the screen for half of The Walking Dead.
– Meditation, mindfulness, dropping into the moment, dropping into the heart.
– Unexpected letters or emails.
– Surprises (nice ones).
– The sea. The sea. The sea.
– Sticking my finger in a cappuccino and licking the froth and chocolate.
– Fondling my favourite rock. The black one from Mongolia.
– Staring at stars.
– Listening to a guitar softly weeping.
– Going boss-eyed staring at yantras.
– Dancing like a loon.
– The scent of fir trees, of orange blossom, of tart geraniums.
– The curl of incense smoke.
Okay, so that’s enough. Tell me a few of your favourite things?