Friluftsliv (free-lufts-liv): Free air life
*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.
If you’re worried about being stuck indoors this winter, the Scandinavians may have the solution with this hard to pronounce and consonant-filled word: friluftsliv. Loosely translated, friluftsliv means “free air life,” a concept that was coined by writer Henrik Ibsen in 1859. Even if we can’t pronounce it easily, this idea could be our salvation this year.
As you wander safely and locally this fall and winter, take the time to stop in the midst of a stand of towering trees and listening to the sounds of songbirds drifting beneath the rustle of the breeze. Take a deep breath release it slowly; turn your face to the sun and breathe the fresh air. You are friluftsliv-ing.
Wondering how you can incorporate the concept of friluftsliv into your life? Here are four ways to embrace a Scandinavian lifestyle in Ontario’s Highlands.
Slow and Steady
Friluftsliv isn’t about extreme sports; you don’t need to be moving fast or working hard. It’s about “being” in nature. Just being. You can be hiking, running, skiing, walking through the woods, or just sitting and turning your face up to the sun and breathing in the scent of the world around you. It’s all friluftsliv.
Friluftsliv: Pack a picnic lunch from North Market Café in Almonte and wander the more than six-kilometres of trails at Mill of Kintail in Mississippi Mills, then stop for lunch in a spot that speaks to you. If you’d rather be outdoors on two wheels, cycle the Ottawa Valley Rail Trail between Smiths Falls and Renfrew and cycle through small communities mixed with fantastic outdoor spaces. Hike to the top of Blueberry Mountain and look out over the world below; remember to take the time to embrace the day.
There’s No Bad Weather
Don’t let a little bit of rain, sleet, snow, or hail keep you from getting outside and enjoying the fresh air – after all, the Scandinavians don’t. The countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are the same approximate northern orientation as Canada’s Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon, they don’t let a little bad weather dampen their fun.
Filuftsliv: One of the best parts of getting outdoors in regardless of the weather conditions is cozying up afterwards. Spend your days hiking, paddling, or cycling and your evenings in front of the fire in cozy bliss.
It’s All About Community….Outdoors
Spending time with our favourite people can lift our spirits and remind us of how awesome the world can be, and friluftsliv embraces this concept. Even if you don’t have a group to hang with, the great outdoors can be the ultimate in ice breakers. Instead of hibernating alone inside, organize an outing with a few friends where you can physically distance as you hike, cycle, or paddle in nature. Remember to stop and breathe in the healing benefits of fresh air.
Friluftsliv: Book a tour with Yours Outdoors and make new friends while learning something new. They offer group courses for every topic from cycling to foraging to geocaching. If you really want to get moving you can gather with friends or soon-to-be-friends with a guided hike from Bird Mountain Journeys and touch the sky at the top of Manitou Mountain.
Gear Up for Outdoors
The Scandinavians will tell you it’s no fun being outdoors when you’re just standing around. If you are missing some equipment that you need to really get you into the outdoors you can find it at one of Ontario’s Highlands’ many outfitters. These folks have the expertise to make sure you are ready for whatever nature throws at you.
Friluftsliv: Algonquin Outfitters near Oxtongue Lake has everything you need to embrace the outdoors, from bikes to canoes and kayaks and even camping equipment like tens and sleeping bags. In Bancroft, Trips and Trails Adventures Outfitting will gear you up for all the outdoor fun you can imagine, from roads and trails to ski hills and waterways.