No, I've not just let the cat run across my keyboard. Friluftsliv is a Norwegian word that I have just learned this morning, and now it's a struggle between Norway, and Japan (Stationery! Forest Bathing! Footballers!) for which my favourite country is right now. Let's take it as read that Scotland is pretty good, and that we will have some Icelandic love coming up pretty soon. Friluftsliv is essentially translated as "free-air life" or "open-air living" and it suggests a commitment to spending time outdoors, whatever the weather. Whilst we might complain about the winter weather here in Scotland we can't really compare it to somewhere like Trømso in Norway, where for two months a year the sun never rises. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Trømso is home to a world expert on winter psychology, yet another career option that was never mentioned to me at school. If you find yourself with less energy and a greater propensity to stay snuggled under the duvet at this time of year, then you're not doing anything wrong. This is your body tuning into the season. It's also why there is some nostalgia for last winter, because despite COVID wrecking almost everything festive, we had no choice but to slow down and nowhere to go but outside.
My recent isolation period was the only time, maybe ever, that I've spent days indoors, and although I thought I'd be climbing the walls, it was fine; I was even slightly reluctant to go back outside when it ended. Without a doubt though, both daylight and the rhythm of walking soothe my spirit and improve my sleep. And I'm not alone, an article in today's Guardian advises us to walk for half an hour in the morning, which is something I am happy to comply with, and the expert mentioned above says that walking in the cold is something to look forward to. People in Norway actively prepare for the winter, compared with people in the UK, so I'm planning on signing up to a workshop on Norwegian Strategies for Enjoying Winter, to find out what else I can learn from them. To be fair, they are also likely to be better prepared for winter weather in terms of clothing; whilst we're learning new words, I've discovered that Gorpcore is the word to describe wearing hiking gear in the city and that the Japanese are good at outdoor gear too, beautifully so.
The picture above was taken on my first day of post-isolation freedom and I think proves that going outside in cold weather can be something to look forward to.