The Scandinavian Approach to Embracing the Outdoors

Cooler weather and even winter seem to be embraced with open arms by many Scandinavians.

There are certain Scandinavian approaches that have been talked about for decades, that seem to provide an easier transition to winter and an opportunity to celebrate this season, rather than dread it.  I took a "Winter Cities" class in university and I remember reading about how urban design, urban planning and event urban festivals can create spaces that make it much more easy to appreciate and enjoy the colder temperatures and darker months.

Which makes me wonder if there are ways to take this approach in our own lives so that we can make personal choices that enhance our enjoyment of cooler fall days and winter months?  I think instinctively we seek out some of these but may not realize how consciously adding such experiences to our outings can really enhance our pleasure as the seasons change.

Here are some ideas!

Seek out Patios that Face West and/or South.  You'll be able to enjoy some passive solar heating (think brick or stone wall that can soak up and radiate out the heat) or benefit from sheltered pockets of warmth away from prevailing winds.  Added bonus if there are heaters that can provide that warmth on days the sun is not out!  I can think of one spot in Ottawa where the temperature was in the low twenties (Celsius) but when we were up on the patio at 5 pm, we were practically sweating!  So imagine how great that patio would be when it gets to 15 degrees Celsius!

Find Cafes and Restaurants that Offer Winter Seating opportunities.  I'm loving that here in Ottawa there are some businesses that are embracing this type of hygge approach.  I've seen wool blankets laid out in the outdoor seating area at my local cafe (on their signature red Muskoka chairs) and cozy furs (and a firepit) at another favourite place in the Market that serves Gl├╝hwein (a type of mulled wine).  In Ottawa I love seeing the outdoor seating areas offered as part of Winterlude also including an outdoor patio (with bonfire + bar carved out of ice) and other gathering spots around bonfires.

Take Advantage of Sunny Days - Good Weather.  Sure this one is a no brainer but especially in the fall we can become wrapped up in things and forget that some of these mild days may be the last.  Get out at lunch time or extend your walk after work (get off a couple of bus stops before home).  Enjoy a mild evening even if the sun sets early.  And as it gets colder, pay attention to these sunny days and seek out opportunities to enjoy a bit of the outdoors.  Find the streets where the angle of the sun reaches in or enjoy a mild day where you can find a spot to soak up a few rays.

Dressing Well Can help Extend the Enjoyment of all Seasons.  If you are dressed according to the current weather, you can enjoy being outdoors for longer.  Another no brainer but this includes proper footware, head "gear" (toque, hat, ear muffs) and a bit of something extra for extremities if needed (such as a hot pocket) or good mitts (not gloves).  And this can be done stylishly also!  Think Blanket Scarves, Wool Hats, Flat Riding Boots, etc.  And your Blanket Scarf can double as a blanket as per the above "Snuggly Seating" also!  The bonus to enjoying the outdoors in cooler seasons and in all kinds of weather is that getting home and cozying up with some tea, a great latte, under a blanket is just as much fun after your outdoor adventure!

Venture towards the Lights (including Bonfires!) Lights provide a warm beacon for those who are outdoors in the darker months.  They also offer animation and beauty during the short days and long evenings that can seem to drag on during the winter.  Enjoy lights during a walk home in the dark or even make a point of finding the best twinkling display as holiday decorations start going up.  And the warm glow such as bonfires, offer places for people to gather.  Public spaces, squares and other community spots can offer outdoor meeting locals with welcoming displays in the same way restaurants do!

Optimize a Great View  A good place to start if you are not exactly ready to fully embrace the colder climates is enjoying locations that provide a scenic outlook.  Look for options such as places to swim where the sun streams in through big windows or a coffee shop where you can sip a warm drink while overlooking the bustling city or a great restaurant or diner that has a huge picture window that shows off the expanse of a shiny white river of ice.  Not all nature appreciation has to be done outdoors!  And if you take this first step to be able to appreciate what winter offers, who knows?  You might even be enticed outdoors after awhile!

Here's to Embracing the Cooler Side!

What are your best tricks to optimize your enjoyment of the winter months?

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