I’ve been working my way through Moorea Seal’s fantastic book, ‘The 52 Lists Project’, which offers weekly list prompts to help the reader reflect and journal their way through the year. It’s been a positive, life-affirming pursuit, with lists I’ve made so far including favourite quotes, favourite characters, a current playlist, people who brighten my day and several more.
A list I’ve returned to often is ‘The Happiest Moments of my Life so Far’. I’m a firm believer in claiming, celebrating and being thankful for the good things in life, whether big or small – that’s what my Small Things posts are all about – so this list is one I particularly treasure. I hope it’s not too self-indulgent to compose a little blog series, focusing on one moment from the list each time. I love to write my memories and I hope that this series might get you thinking about your own happiest moments and the magic of life. Because whatever our struggles and sadnesses, I believe each heart knows its own joys too.
Happiest Moments 1: Moving back to Devon
It was early summer when we moved back. We worked right up to the very last day, cramming in a whole range of events and tasks, with hardly time to pack up our things. The day came and various family members helped us hurriedly pile all our boxes and bags into a hired van that was barely big enough. We loved the house we were leaving and it was at its best at that time of year: big, green garden sloping down towards the rec; rickety patio where we had shared lunches and dinners; sunny kitchen with the lime green wall we had painted. But it was time to go, and we were ready, albeit in a rather haphazard, hurried fashion. I rode in the front of the van with dad and our guinea pig, Balderdash. We stopped at the services and popped him onto the grass while we ate our sandwiches, so he could have a snack and a leg stretch, too. The others met us there in the car with Jamie the dog in tow. We must’ve been an odd looking group, with furniture bursting out of the vehicles and the sausage dog and the guinea pig for travelling companions.
We arrived and unloaded in sunshine and sat around the great, wooden, family-sized table we’d chosen in a second hand shop back in Bucks. And life in Devon began. We were in the farmhouse where Andrew grew up, rolling hills all around us, flowers in the hedges, birds on the bird table. Almost as soon as we got here we headed across the water to Lundy Island, surrounded by the Atlantic and all the scents and sights that told us we were back in Devon, back home. The taste of cider; the coconut scent and bright yellow of gorse; the salty, breezy air: these things welcomed us back like old friends. And then there were the old friends, who welcomed us back, too.
The hot summer passed in a haze of sand and sea and then it was Autumn, and in the blink of an eye years passed. We are still here, in the same farmhouse, which has hosted many a gathering of friends and family in that time; it has seen the ups and downs of our lives and stood constant through the changing seasons. As I write, icicles hang from the outbuildings and snow lies in the garden. But whatever the season, the birds still come to the table outside, we still sit around the one in the kitchen and we still find this old house to be the happiest of homes.