Summer Hygge?

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been delving into the Scandinavian concept of hygge, or kos, which loosely translates to something related to coziness. To a large extent, it’s a coping mechanism for cold, dark winters. While it’s cold and dark outside, with very little daylight, they create a light, warm space inside with candles, fuzzy blankets, socks and sweaters, and warm beverages with hearty meals.

I am all about that kind of stuff, but around here, it’s just a way to celebrate cooler weather. There’s seldom any “coping” required to get through winter. That’s the time when we can go outdoors without bursting into flames, when we can walk in the woods without worrying about snakes. The time of year when we need a contrast with harsh weather outside is during the summer, when we face a few months of temperatures so hot that it’s not even safe to go outside in the daytime. We’re huddled inside with our air conditioners the way the Scandinavians have to retreat from harsh winters. That got me started thinking about what our seasonal brand of something like hygge would look like.

Probably blinds or curtains to shut out the harshest sunlight, whenever that happens. My windows face mostly to the east, so I need to block out morning sun. Fans are essential to create a cooling breeze. That would be the summer version of candles for creating atmosphere. Instead of a blanket, you’d have cotton slipcovers on the furniture to make it feel cooler. Instead of socks, bare feet. Instead of a sweater, a cotton sundress. Iced tea or other cool beverages, and salads and ice cream to eat. Fresh summer fruit served cold, like watermelon.

The social aspect would remain the same, with similar indoor activities like movie nights, games, or puzzles, just with cool foods instead of hot beverages and soups.

Maybe I should write the “Hygge, Y’all” book.

I have my own little rituals for welcoming cooler weather, like buying some kind of cozy clothing during the end-of-season sales and putting it away with my sweaters so I have something new when I get out the winter clothes, and I declare the first cool, rainy day of the season to be a holiday, a day to spend reading and drinking tea. But I don’t really need anything to get me excited about the coming of fall. I need some kind of celebration to make me excited about warm weather.

The trick is that we get warm weather scattered throughout the winter. There aren’t many days when you can’t go outside at all, so there really isn’t a “first warm day” to celebrate. I’ve spent afternoons on the patio in January. I could buy a sundress or a summer nightgown at the end of season sales and put it away with my summer clothes to have something new to look forward to. I could “celebrate” the first 100-degree day with ice cream (I don’t have ice cream often). I have a few dishes I only make during the summer, and I do enjoy having watermelon all the time. I don’t know if the swimming pool will be open this year, since they’ll be discouraging gatherings (we have a community pool), and I don’t know about the Friday fireworks at the lake because those draw crowds. It will depend on how things look by then. This really is likely to be a summer of huddling indoors. Since I’m at pretty high risk for complications (and the more we learn about this virus, the more it looks like no one can be entirely certain of getting through it unscathed), I’m going to be playing it safe for some time to come.

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