07 Feb 2017

Creature Comforts Of Nantucket

In a recent New York Times article, contributing editor Penelope Green provided a compelling argument for why Denmark is frequently named one of the happiest countries in the world. Their people passionately pursue “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah, the Danish word for cozy.) Green muses that hygge is Denmark’s “national manifesto”…an obsession even, expressed in “the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures involving candlelight, fires, fuzzy knitted socks, porridge, coffee, cake and other people.” It appears that food, fresh flowers and other creature comforts are the cornerstone of their hygge.
The trend toward “cozy” was birthed from the wellness movement, but unlike activities requiring physical exertion, hip detox juice blends or expensive work-out gear, hygge is an easier trend to adopt because it’s so personal and so accessible says Green. She concludes “you’re not just indulging for the sake of it…you’re supposed to savor it. For the Danes it’s a way to seek comfort from the dark winters and it lends itself naturally to uncertain times.” We know a little about dark winters and uncertain times here on Nantucket too.
I watched our 11 year-old dog Coco seek out her “hygge” on a recent blustery day. As the snow fell and the wind howled, she instinctively knew where to find her calm. She pulled the cashmere blanket from the easy chair and settled onto it in front of the crackling fire. I swear she spent the entire weekend with a big Snoopy grin on her face. As my husband and I spent some time curled up with our own soft blankets, candles softly burning and the opportunity to power read a couple great books, I realized that we were smiling pretty big by the end of the weekend too. Clearly, the Danes are onto something with this Hygge business.
On Nantucket, like in Denmark, there’s very little to do during the winter so the local people get pretty good at finding our cozy. Dinner at Atlas¬†Nantucket, in front of their roaring fire, noshing on Grant’s slow roasted ribs and Gabrielle’s homemade profiterole while sipping a hot toddy, is the stuff bliss is made of. You can find a quiet corner in the Atheneum and read undisturbed for hours on end. The other night I walked by the Corner Table on Broad Street late in the evening and saw through the window what appeared to be 3 generations of guys huddled into a corner booth engaged in a game of Scrabble. As I stopped to quietly observe their special moment, I sighed and smiled and knew they had found their “hygge” in its simplest form.
Of course, the easiest way to find your calm on Nantucket is to create it yourself. Take a long walk on the beach. Join Evie for a yoga class at the Yoga Room. Or simply invite some friends for dinner, put a pot of comfort food in the oven, light the fireplace and the candles, arrange fresh flowers on the table and then spend the evening laughing, reminiscing and sharing your favorite ways to “hygge.”
Stay calm.
Shellie Dunlap
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