Friluftslive: Time in Nature Is Essential
“My family has quickly learned to value the winter season, for we have discovered that there is learning, beauty, and fun to be found in it.”
My family recently moved from a relatively mild climate in the Southeast region of the United States to a comparatively harsh one in the Northwest. The winters here, for example, can be quite cold, and I hate to be cold. However, I love to be outside; I thrive on light, fresh air, and physical activity. My children do too. For all of us, regularly connecting with nature is an important part of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and a well-rounded education.
While still in Virginia, I started proactively researching ways that would help my family to carry through the long, cold winters in Idaho. I discovered two insightful ideas. The first was friluftslive (pronounced free-loofts-liv), a Norwegian notion that time spent outside every day is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. The second idea I found was the common Scandinavian belief that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Heartened and inspired by what I learned, I started acquiring quality warm clothing for the entire family as soon as we were settled in our new home. I wanted to be prepared.
It didn’t take long before those cold-weather clothes came in useful because temperatures significantly dropped, hoarfrost formed, and snow fell as early as October. Thanks to our new friluftslive mentality and warm clothes, however, we’ve still been able to take some study breaks outside to move our bodies, breathe in some fresh air, soak up some much-needed sunshine, and refresh our minds. Additionally, these excursions have granted us the opportunity to observe what naturalist John Burroughs described as the “the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”1
My family has quickly learned to value the winter season, for we have discovered that there is learning, beauty, and fun to be found in it. Furthermore, I have no doubt that the frigid winter is going to give us a new appreciation for the hot summer. As John Steinbeck said, "What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”2
1John Burroughs, Winter Sunshine (1875), p. 142John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)
- The Mindful Heart