I’ve been reading the book “NØRTH: How to live Scandinavian”. It’s a light-hearted, though accurate, look at how things are different in that cluster of countries across the Atlantic that share similar latitudes to us here in Canada. And often different for the better it seems, seeing as they usually seem to top rankings of happiness and other indicators of well-being.
Part of my interest is perhaps hereditary–half my genes are Danish–but, more topical given the time of year, I’m also interested in their approach to winter and the shorter, darker days that come along with it. The bottom line is, basically, get out there and enjoy it; don’t sequester yourself indoors. (Though the indoors, as the now-popularized Danish notion of “hygge” demonstrates, can be pretty darn cozy what with all those candles, duvets, wood fires and woolly socks LOL.)
The Norwegians are especially known for outdoor winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and going to their “hytte” (small wilderness huts, as it happens very similar to the Guest Cabin here). But this also extends to everyday activities of eating and drinking. I recall on my last visit to Copenhagen, in mid-November several years ago, restaurants and cafes draped wool blankets on their outdoor patio chairs. And bars will often have big plush bean-bag-like seats outside to sit and enjoy your beer. (Related: there is even a Norwegian word, “utepils“, which is not directly translatable but essentially describes the activity of drinking beer outdoors.)
The Danes, Norwegians and Swedes (and Finns, a Nordic nation but not technically part of Scandinavia) love being outdoors, and doing things outdoors, unless the weather truly precludes it. And so it was with this in mind that on recent grey and dull winter afternoon I brewed up some coffee, bundled-up, and sat with it on the front porch much as if it were spring, summer or fall. Cozy cozy cozy! With coffee and biscotti consumed, I sat there watching large snowflakes drop in a light flurry and unexpectedly had a brief nap!
The secret to this type of activity… sitting outdoors in winter to read, have coffee, even play cards… is a decent *wool* blanket (Trust me on this! Fleece just doesn’t cut it. And cotton has minimal heat retention.) and positioning it both under and wrapping around you. Bring your fav cozy blanket with you, or if you forgot one, ask me to loan you my Icelandic wonder!
Semi-related blog post: Canadian Sunbathing