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How very hygge that the start of summer and West Virginia’s birthday coincide this year on June 20? But of course. It’s all the more reason to re-visit the age-old question, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” It’s just one more reason to adopt the theory that West Virginia has been embracing the hygge philosophy all along. And since the official start of the summer season is just around the corner, let’s take a look at how very hygge that time of year is for all of us.

It’s easy to look back and remember what we enjoyed during this time of year as children, young adults, and now as adults making certain that we pass along these treasured moments to our children and grandchildren. It’s simply what we do. And in recalling those memories and nearly insisting upon their continuance, there are a few that are so universal that their reach is far beyond the Appalachian region, but we’ll claim them as ours, anyway. The list is lengthy, and we find ourselves grateful for each:

n Bike riding along neighborhood hills and valleys, or through state parks or designated trails at West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park in Fayette County.

nCookouts in the backyard, inflatable pools waiting to cool and refresh, and pitched tents, and movie set-ups, and one s’more after another.

n Chasing fireflies, as they dance in the night sky.

n Packing a picnic basket and setting a table with a red-checkered cloth.

n Lighting citronella candles to keep the uninvited guests at bay.

n Golfing and playing tennis and tossing horseshoes.

n Fishing at our favorite stream.

n Attending any number of fairs and festivals, anticipating the flavors that only apple butter prepared over an open fire can provide.

n Sharing the fruits of our prolific gardens with our neighbors.

n Gathering around a crackling fire pit and telling stories (all the better if they’re a bit scary).

In looking at this list of irresistible opportunities to celebrate the summer season, the thread that binds them is togetherness, the bringing together of friends and family, and engaging in an activity that is so simple that it graces pure joy without much effort on the part of anyone — very much like a butterfly’s wing that lightly touches our arms as it flits here and there.

Each is simply there for us to add to an ever-growing list of what makes us happy, what reassures us — especially in a time as challenging as what each of us lives today — that our quality of life is, most definitely, within our reach, if we but take a few minutes to walk around our own backyards and survey the possibilities.

We are encouraged to open our eyes and look around at what nature so clearly provides.

The common denominators of being together and enjoying the company of those around us — along with a few delectable morsels from recipes handed down from one generation to the next — are what make us who we are: Appalachians at heart who have lived the hygge life for as long as we can remember. People who may have just planted its seeds nearly 160 years ago.

Let’s celebrate her birthday and the summer season in a very natural, hygge way. Let’s set the stage for others to replicate, knowing that they might fall just a tad bit shy, but applauding their efforts, nonetheless.

Kathleen Jacobs writes books for young readers, was the Runner-up Best Author of W.Va. for 2020, and lives a very hygge life in Charleston. She can be reached at kjacobswv@gmail.com.

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