The first time I drove through the gates at Silverwood Park, I was overcome with a feeling that I couldn’t quite find the words to describe.
Between gigantic trees with branches twisting up to seemingly embrace each other and families running around on a gorgeous green lawn, I felt something special in the air. The whole park radiated with a positive and calming energy.
Walking on beautiful pavers into the visitor center, I entered a place that would become for me — as it has for many others — a home away from home.
It was through these doors that I’d learn the word that describes what I was feeling.
Between the cabin-esque feel of the wooden ceiling and fireplace surrounded by stone, I immediately felt cozy. Top that off with fresh smells of hot coffee and I knew I had found hygge at Silverwood.
What is Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced Hue-guh) is a Danish way of life. Essentially, it translates to a feeling of coziness, enjoying the little things, and finding happiness in simplicity.
Here in Minnesota, we try our best to make winters bearable. Hygge may be a way for some of you to crack the code on creating a fun and even merry season despite the arctic temperatures.
Curling up under a flannel blanket, reading a book, the smell of a favorite candle or tater tot hotdish in the oven: These are all ways to experience the feeling of hygge.
It is that joy, that coziness, that feeling of “home.”
Those feelings are what help me get through some of our toughest winter days — and chances are you have experienced some variation of these, too.
Bringing Hygge into Your Life
But how can we more purposefully incorporate hygge into our lives this season?
The best thing about hygge is how simple it is. Hygge can be enjoyed alone or with friends or family. It can be indoors or outdoors.
To me, living a hygge lifestyle is a mindset in which you learn to appreciate the little things. As the Hygge House blog suggests, it’s about creating simple rituals and recognizing and enjoying the present moments.
For example, I find personal enjoyment by savoring the smell of my first cup of coffee in the morning and listening to an egg cracking into a bowl when baking holiday cookies with my nephew.
Hygge is different for everyone, though. To begin, you need to recognize where you find your own comfort and contentment. Snuggling up by a fireplace, putting on a fluffy pair of socks, sipping hot cider with friends — whichever little moments of the season that bring you joy and comfort.
Once you identify these, you can start to embrace what hygge is all about and more intentionally build these small routines into your life.
Hygge in Three Rivers Park District
If you want some assistance with finding hygge, being in nature at a local park is a great place to start.
Even as a child, I found joy in the small moments and my favorite memories took place outside. One of my favorite things in summer included walking down to the beach at the “cool park” (also known as French Regional Park), digging my feet into the sand, and taking a moment to listen to the water.
The park that really cemented the feeling of hygge for me was Silverwood, though, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to help others create their own memories and experience their own hygge.
There is a huge sense of community and comfort there. It is more than just a beautiful park: It’s an intimate coffee shop, a thought-provoking art gallery, a love-filled wedding venue, a place to bump elbows with neighbors and a place to share stories and create memories. It is a place to embrace hygge with handcrafted beverages and a welcoming atmosphere.
Here are some other ideas to find your hygge in the parks:
Walk, snowshoe or ski the trails and warm up in a visitor center after.
Savor the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet or birds singing their songs.
See who visits the bird feeders at a nature center.
Watch a sunrise or sunset.
No matter what you love to do, in any season, alone or with friends, I hope you allow yourself the time to slow down, appreciate the small things and find your own hygge.
About the Author
Jenifer Garcia is a Shift Lead at Silverwood Park. She has been working for Three Rivers Park District since she graduated in May 2017 from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Advertising Art Direction. She uses her creative background, love for nature, and years of coffee experience to help create specials and run the Silverwood Cafe. Jenifer was born and raised in Minnesota and enjoys getting outside as much as possible, whether hiking, biking, running, or exploring a new park. Jenifer also loves being an aunt to her two nephews and niece and often encourages them to put down the electronics and get outside more!