Twenty things that make me happy

Dear joyful reader,

Last fall, I sent you a letter listing “hateful things” in honor of Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book.

Today, I want to write about happiness. Here are 20 things that leave me content, make me laugh, fill me with joy —

* Sledding parties on sunny March days when everyone from 5 to 50 flies down the hill and their laughter echoes through the trees.

* Coming indoors after a sledding party to a crackling wood stove and hot cocoa.

* Sunshine after 8 p.m.

* The fact that my father’s delight when I gave him a signed first edition of Bernard Cornwell’s newest novel wasn’t because it was a signed first edition, but because it was one he hadn’t read yet.

* Two hours spent utterly absorbed in a good book.

* The lines from my mother’s newest poems:

I was born in a wet month

that rains promises

of a forever spring.

* Hearing my husband Sam’s voice over our walkie-talkie as he plows the driveway in the dark. “The Northern lights are out!” Turning off all the house lights and rushing to the window to see a sheet of electric green rippling behind the mountains.

* Two hours spent cross-country skiing out of our backyard through sunlit birch trees, crossing paths with fox, ermine, grouse, and moose.

* Silence.

* Sam making moose meat burek for dinner when we learned The Snow Child will be published in Albania (recipe and publishing deal courtesy of Tracy at Little, Brown & Co.)

* News that The Snow Child’s list of foreign publishers has grown to include Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Brazil, Israel, Serbia, Romania, Albania, and Poland.

* Listening to my oldest daughter as she sings Italian arias.

* The knowledge that our children will have talents and do things we never would have dreamed of doing.

* The hope that we might drill a well this summer and not have to haul water anymore.

* Bookstores.

* Warm chicken eggs in the nest on a cold morning.

* A 5-year-0ld’s knock-knock jokes, that only she gets but that make us all laugh.

* Pussy willows.

* Mud puddles.

* Knowing spring will come, and then be gone again.

What makes you happy?




  • Eowyn, thanks for reminding me about all the numerous things in my life that make me happy. A few things: 1. Walking in Totem Park, Sitka Alaska 2. Being in the presence of one or more of my 15 grandchildren. 3. Tacos 4. Out on our boat jigging up halibut 5. Listening to my father tell his stories 6. Brainstorming poetry with my oldest daughter, Vivian Mork (also a poet) 7. Beachcombing 8. Writing poetry 9. Having coffee with my husband in the morning. 10. BBQ and laughter on my neighbor’s deck (which is also my deck as our homes are attached).

  • The sweet laughter from our grandkids…..and hiking the beautiful trails in our Alaskan woods…..Happy Spring to you all.

  • Maggie Ackman says:

    I live in Arizona but my sister lives in Palmer. I miss winter. 1. Love talking to my grandchildren.2. Laughing with my sisters, about everything we can think of.3.Hiking anywhere and everywhere with my sisters. Enjoying a cocktail in the evening with the people I love the most.4. Watching the sunrise. 5. Fishing with my husband. 6. playing with my dogs. Reading a good book like “The Snow Child”.
    Thank you for writing such a goob book, look forward to more from you Eowyn, no pressure….

  • Sue Mathis says:

    Things that make me happy. Here are just a few. 1. Spring in Alaska (will it ever get here?) 2. Spending time with my book club friends, all of whom I love dearly. 3. A good cup of coffee (of course!) 4. Quiet time. 5. A good book. 6. My dogs.

  • Marilyn says:

    What lovely things everyone is able to list. My pleasures are possible just fairly typical of an Englishwoman in her early/mid sixties. Not in order of merit, but just as they come to me: 1. I love my lie-in bed on a weekend with the sun bouncing off the cottages opposite so that for a change it seems that the sun is shining into my north-facing windows; 2. Listening to the birds’ songs 3. Looking out of the main front door to the hills on a sunny morning; 4. Hugs; 5. Reading the English language beautifully expressed, as in ‘The Snow Child’; 6. the perfume of rain after a period of sun and dryness; 7. Having one of the very rare visits from a family member; 8. enjoying a meal/drink with good acquaintances; 9. cooking soups, especially when they turn out even better than expected! 10. The pleasure of bringing joy into someone else’s life.

  • Donna Braendel says:

    1. 5-65! Your sledding parties are always a joy so maybe they take 2 spaces. Neighbors who are generous, caring and give support and sympathy to a hard hurting girl who is touched and grateful for it. Generous and thoughtful women who are valiant and undaunted in the face of great battles.. Gifted people who use their gift to enrich everyone’s lives. Friends who chip in time to care for critters while you are gone. Chicks and bunny kits. Newborn foals. The moon when it’s a sliver, with planets in attendance. Brown bear tracks on the snow on a mountain in the spring. My daughter playing “The Fairy King” on the violin. A good long visit with my brother and sister.

  • Kerry says:

    1. Hearing my grandchildren laugh.
    2. Sitting with my husband on our favorite picnic rock in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. From there we look at mountains and vineyards, watch hawks high in the sky and turkey vultures circling below us, listen to quail and crickets, and wonder why we ever leave Sonoma County.
    3. Leaving Sonoma County to travel the world. I can’t wait to take the ferry from Bellingham to Juneau and then on to Whittier in the summer.
    4. Turning fresh produce from the garden into something truly delicious.
    5. Walking on the beach as the sun goes down.
    6. Spring. Watching one flowering shrub and tree after another bloom. Next week should be warm; maybe the Wisteria will open and cover the wooden frame in a mass of blue.

  • mrchickaloonbaer says:

    * Birds singing in the morning
    * Greening of the trees in May
    * Baking a pie
    * Return of the swans
    * Warm tropical breezes
    * An excellent IPA
    * New music
    * Freezer full of salmon, caribou and moose
    * Snorkeling
    * Hiking in the desert
    * Spring skiing
    * Hugs
    * Completing a building project
    * Traveling with Jenny
    * Cheesecake
    * Hunting with Adrian
    * Hot tubbing with Northern Lights
    * Getting together with friends
    * Hiking with Zachary
    * Waking up to a new day

  • Debbi says:

    So many of yours are mine!! Love the knock-knock jokes! As my new retirement includes time in southern Arizona, I would add the moon rise over the Arizona desert, the whine of the trains at night, the scurry of a lizard in the heat and the smell of small wildflowers blanketing the floor of the desert in spring.
    Best to you and your family!

  • sardav64 says:

    I love how beautigul nature is- the changing seasons. I love the sound of the sea.
    I love a roaring fire. I love snow and sunshire. I like light falling though a window.
    I love to curl up with a good book. I could go on and on
    nest wishes Sarah

  • Joe says:

    1.) The laughter of children
    2.) the anticipation of children on Christmas Eve
    3.) the eyes of children on Christmas morning
    4) puppy dogs and puppy dog breath
    5) listening to rain fall on the roof
    6) mountains at dusk
    7) dawn at the beach
    8) drinking Earl Grey tea while watching evening snow fall
    9) being surrounded by books
    10) the smile of a woman, and noticing how her nose crinkles when she laughs.

  • AlaskaZen says:

    In no particular order:
    playing with my kitties
    loved ones’ good health
    wine with friends
    new socks
    baking bread
    riding in the bow of the boat on a calm, sunny day
    beach combing
    picking berries on a quiet mountainside
    a freezer and cupboards full of healthy, wild, and local foods
    getting back to a good book

  • kookiekelley says:

    Thank you for the happiness! You brought up some wonderful Alaska memories. I miss the feeling of home a lot, especially the birch trees. However, it is nice to see tulips emerge down here :). Congratulations on the new countries!

  • foodie48 says:

    In no particular order;

    -The sun shining on my face
    -The sound of birds singing
    -Becoming obsessed with an art project
    -Seeing my art displayed in a museum or gallery
    -Being with my family
    -Exploring new paths and neighborhoods
    -Enjoying time with friends
    -Mountains and wilderness
    -Farms and gardens
    -The sound of the ocean
    -Snuggling with my cats when they let me
    -Spending time with Dave
    -Watching the rain fall while being inside drinking tea
    -Being in Europe
    -Reading people’s lists of things they love

  • Catherine says:

    Hi Eowyn…we did a similar think on our blog about happy places

    I’ve loved reading everybody’s lists, they’ve cheered me up during a difficult time.