The Sweetness of Life

The-Sweetness-of-Life

Might I recommend a book for your forever bookshelf? A book I think we should all have tucked away in our comfort drawers for the kind of days that leave a bitter aftertaste?

The Sweetness of Life is something of a literary phenomenon in France, home of it's anthropologist author Francoise Heritier: a women in  her most tender years writing to her doctor, after he sends her a postcard making reference to a "stolen " week in Scotland - a turn of phrase that inspires a letter now turned into this darling little book, stuffed with all that is precious about both Francoise's live and indeed ours...

" You sounded happy in the mists of Scotland. All the same you didn't "steal" your holiday in the sense of pilfering or misappropriating property. Indeed I would say that you are stealing from your own life every day.

If you assume an average life expectancy of 85 years, or 31,025 days, always having, also on average, 8 hours of sleep a day; if you spend 3 hours 30 minutes on shopping, preparing and eating meals, washing up after them, and so on; 1 hour 30 minutes on personal hygiene and grooming, sickness etc.; 3 hours for keeping the family going: children, transport, interaction with other people, DIY work, etc.; 140 hours of work a month for 45 years at a rate of six hours a day, leaving out of account the pleasure that work may give you; 1 hour a day for obligatory social relationships, conversations with the neighbours, having a drink, meetings, seminars and so on; then how much time is left for the average citizen, male or female, to enjoy those activities that are the sweetness of life?"

And so she begins a litany of lovely, tiny moments, marked for her own pleasure and the reminder to her doctor friend that we have our very own stash of teeny tiny joys always at our beck and call to show us what is worth savoring in this life...

 "..considering that the word "kindness" denotes a great virtue, not looking away from adversity, regarding friendship as a commitment, getting absorbed in watching an anthill at work, walking into a field to make grasshoppers leap out, knowing where red squirrels nest, having large keys to the barred gates in your garden, letting weeds grow between the paving stones of a terrace, being unable to do without nasturtiums in the garden, making a ladybird walk on your finger, watching milk on the stove and taking it off the heat just in time, making a chocolate mousse to my Mothers old recipe (with butter in it), still feeling nostalgic about pouched eggs in red wine sauce, being naively astonished by conjuring tricks, being dazzled by a fine sight and captivated by a good speech..."

Oh my. This then is the very stuff of life and I do believe it would be a worthwhile task to reserve a small journal for our very own "Sweet List": a lifelong endeavor dedicated to noting down all the tiny joys that as the saying goes, often pass un-noticed.  

This then is the beginning of mine...

Listening to my three day old baby snuffle in his Moses basket, standing on the rocks at Betws Y Coed, the first taste of celeriac mash on that Saturday night, the sweet scent of a huge bunch of white stocks flooding the living room, a puff of lavender musk linen spray on freshly washed pillows, midnight Merlot in the garden by fairy light, making a tent with my duvet first thing in the morning with Finn, Robert Downey Junior in Sherlock Holmes,a supper of cream crackers and good butter, singing along to Grease when my sister and I were kids, Simple Abundance,  listening to Richard teach Finn how to tile the new porch roof, the cosy feel of a new kitten sleeping in my apron pocket, lugging my portfolio half way across Liverpool when I was eighteen, the scent of tomatoes growing in the garden, listening to Nana shuffle around in her trod down slippers as I tried to sleep, blue hydrangeas, rose scented chocolate and the nonsensical chatter of children on the drive to school...

Won't you write your own?