Getting Cozy with the Cold

Climate and Enviroment

This year, Houston was invited to celebrate winter first-hand. No settling for greeting-card snowscapes sent from relatives up North, or icicle day-dreams during a balmy January afternoon. Nope. This year, we got the real thing: snow and ice and lots of cold!

But while the mittens and powdered rooftops might be exciting at first, it isn’t long before we remember: we’re a swamp city, not a snow city! What are we supposed to do with long johns and icy roads?

What’s a swamp to do in the freezing snow?

In unknown situations, it’s best to take a word of advice from those who’ve been there before; in this case, a cultural practice born out of the long winters in Norway might be of use—that is, what the Norwegians call koselig. A rough American translation of koselig approximates to “cozy;” it is, however, much more than that. According to Kari Leibowitz, a Fullbright scholar who recently published a study on how to stay happy during the cold and dark days of winter, it is precisely this concept that keeps the Norwegians immune to what, in the U.S., we frequently call winter-time blues—also known as: the reclusive, stir-crazy curmudgeon who surfaces at the first signs of a chill; or the heavy boredom that settles when you realize that four layers isn’t warm enough to protect you from the 41° temperatures outside (and anything more than four is unreasonable) #Stuckinside #Houstonsnowpocalypse #Swampsareforsweatingnotsleeting.

What is koselig, and how can it help the swamp survive (and enjoy) winter weather?

In an effort to translate this concept for the non-native Norwegian, blogger Lorelou Desjardins explains: “anything can (and should) be koselig: a house, a conversation, a dinner, a person. It defines something/someone/an atmosphere that makes you feel a sense of warmth very deep inside in a way that all things should be: simple and comforting.” This involves keeping:

  • Physically warm: always keep a hat, gloves, and warm scarf at hand when the temperatures are low—it’s easier to keep warm if you’re working from an already warm baseline; snuggle under a fuzzy blanket; drink hot beverages, like coffee, cocoa, tea, or gluvine (whiskey also works to keep the cheeks warm).
  • Emotionally warm: share meals with your friends and family; hold hands; laugh; move slowly/take your time (it builds compassion and allows you to appreciate the simple things… and conserves energy).
  • Aesthetically warm: wear bright colors; when people arrive to your house for dinner, light candles to create a glow around your shared space; appreciate the beauty of afternoon light through leaf-less tree branches, or the ruddy glow that grows on your friend’s cheeks after walking in from outside.

It’s easy to get discouraged by the cold weather, especially when we’re not used to it. Hopefully some of these ideas can inspire you to find your own way to warm up to the cold.

Your house’s central heating system will certainly help make things cozy, but only if it’s blowing the warm air through clean ducts. If you’re worried that your heater may be blowing dirty air through the house, we’re here to help!

You provide the hot cocoa, we’ll bring the scarves and candles!!

We want to hear from you! Call or email to tell us about your indoor air quality problems.  We’ll help you find the right solution.