June 19: contentment

Today’s tasks are the lazy-Sunday-after-a-party sort of tasks. Cleaning up, tidying up, putting away the air mattresses and extra blankets (several people stayed over rather than driving home late last night). I made pancakes for breakfast for all of us, and was rewarded with gratitude and affection and endless cups of tea being made for me.


Now I’m sitting in the afternoon sun, eating toasted cheese for lunch and watching the clouds blow in with (hopefully) some rain. Life’s pretty good.


I’ve always thought that being happy is something you do, not something that happens to you. It’s a choice, and sometimes it takes work. Last night, a friend of mine said to me that he admired the effort and determination I put in to bringing joy into my life, that he doesn’t know how I find time to do all the things I do on the farm and also socialise. But that’s the point, isn’t it? You do what you can to find the things that bring you joy – or happiness, or contentment – and then you do those things. Sitting next to a fire, drinking mulled wine and chatting with people I care about makes me happy. Growing trees makes me happy. Writing blog posts in the sunshine makes me happy. Lots of things, large and small, make me happy, and I am very happy right now.


To save this from being just a slightly sleep-deprived post about the aftermath of a party, here’s a recipe for mulled wine. Use it as you wish, tweak it to taste, and share it with friends. 🙂



Midwinter Mulled Wine


1 bottle red wine (shiraz or pinot noir are my favourites, but pick whatever you prefer)

200 ml fresh orange juice

200 ml other fruit juice – mandarin, apple, pear, or berry work well.

200 ml brandy or cointreau (or rum, vodka, …)

5 whole peppercorns

4 – 6 whole cloves (to taste)

2 quills of cinnamon

zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup brown sugar

(optional) 250 ml Japanese plum wine


  • Combine the fruit juice, orange zest, plum wine, spices, and sugar and allow to infuse overnight.
  • In a large saucepan (or a slow cooker), combine the red wine and the fruit juice mixture. Heat gently, but do not bring to a boil or simmer.
  • When the mixture is hot, stir in the brandy or cointreau.
  • Serve hot.