Hygge in Boulder County

Winter for introverts


Sometimes nature’s majesty is best observed through a large window. Preferably while you sit next to a roaring fire with a cup of hot cocoa, a good book in your hands and a furry friend curled up in your lap.

And whether you simply don’t care for cold and snow, or need a day to recoup, winter is the perfect time to indulge in the age-old Danish secret to happy living: Hygge.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) isn’t specific to the nation of Denmark — it goes by many names. The Dutch call it gezelligheid. Norwegians: koselig. Germans: gemütlichkeit. And for Canadians: hominess. They all point to a similar state of mind and activity — a chance to shut out the chaos of outside, while embracing a feeling of community, warmth and togetherness. In a word: Coziness.

There once was a time when Americans were cozy, but according to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. now ranks 18th in happiness, which might explain why hygge has caught fire with those seeking peace and calm. If hygge is what keeps Denmark one of the happiest nations on the planet, then hygge ought to do a little good over here.

It’s not hard to see why. Hygge seeks to improve our immediate environment — by choosing the right atmosphere and light quality and constructing safe and comfortable spaces — while also providing a chance to look beyond ourselves: equality, gratitude, harmony, truce and togetherness are all key hygge tenants. And one informs the other: In the right atmosphere, we are open to new ideas and new perspectives; when we feel a sense of togetherness and belonging, we feel safe and comfortable.

And from cold and snow to abysmally short days and long nights, winter can be hard on a lot of folks. These are perfect days for hygge. Even better, hygge requires significantly less effort than a trek to the slopes, and candles cost a fraction of the price of a lift ticket. Ready to hygge? Here are a few places in Boulder County to get you started.

Magic Fairy Candles, 634 Main St., Longmont, 720-711-0359.
Hygge without candles is like skiing without snow. In addition to light, candles produce aroma and coziness that is difficult to describe, easy to understand. Magic Fairy Candles are locally made, all-natural and soy-based, and can even be used as hand lotion once they liquefy. And with over a dozen aromas, they can accommodate any room or mood. Try the chai; it’s delightful.

Piece, Love & Chocolate, 805 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-449-4804.
Comfort food might even be more hygge than candles, and comfort comes in many dishes. Sweet treats, pastries and hot drinks are sure to warm you from the inside out, and Piece, Love & Chocolate has plenty to offer. Chocolate truffles, cookies, cakes, this place has it all, with enticing aromas to boot. Try a sipping chocolate — espresso-like liquid chocolate that is thick and rich — while perusing their schedule of upcoming cooking classes. Community is as hygge as chocolate, and who knows whom you’ll meet while whipping up a flourless chocolate cake.

Fingerplay Studio, 901 Front St., Suite 110, Louisville, 303-604-4374.
Speaking of getting out there and taking a class, Fingerplay Studio has plenty of crocheting, stitching and knitting classes where you can learn to work with your hands, meet new people and exercise that dormant creativity. Plus, what better way to while away those dark winter nights than by knitting gloves, scarves and hats for family and friends? Need supplies? Head over to Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, Inc. (635 S. Broadway, Boulder, 303-494-1071), your “one-stop-shop for everything related to fiber arts.”

The hygge list goes on: From board games (check your local ARC Thrift Store or Goodwill) to animal rescue shelters (Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-772-1232). You can skate in Historic Louisville’s 6,500-square-foot ice rink, or partake in a choral concert — there’s a plethora of chorales along the Front Range to choose from. So no more feeling like winter sports have left you out in the cold. Hygge is here to help.

Michael J. Casey

Five beers for a winter’s night
Not every hygge beverage need be hot. Besides, when the sun sets at happy hour, it just feels right to reach for a beer. Here are five from Boulder County brewers to help get you through those extra long nights.

Peanut Butter Porter, Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company, 297 N. Highway 287, Suite 100, Lafayette, 720-550-7813.
With an aroma of roasted peanuts and sweet chocolate, just a sniff is a treat in its own right. You’ll swear someone just stuck a peanut butter cup under your nose. Just be careful with this one; there’s a kick of alcohol between all that goodness.

Northstar Imperial Porter, Twisted Pine Brewing Company, 3201 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-786-9270.
Winter nights are made for strong beers, and Twisted Pine just took home gold at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival for this Imperial Porter. Loaded with decadent malt, Northstar is creamy and warming from the inside out.

Woody’s Salted Chocolate Stout, Crystal Springs Brewing Company, 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, Louisville, 303-665-8888; 604 Main St., Louisville, 720-572-7975.
Upfront: Dark chocolate and roasted malts. On the backend: a pop of briny salt just when you think things might be getting too sweet.

Old Jubilation Ale, Avery Brewing Co., 4910 Nautilus Court N., Boulder, 303-440-4342.
Dark and rich with hints of toffee, hazelnut and mocha, Old Jubilation is a winter standard. It smells like the holidays (cumin and coriander) and drinks best with a roaring fire and a good book.

Moondoor Dunkel, Wibby Brewing, 209 Emery St., Longmont, 303-776-4594.
Dark as night and velvety light, Wibby’s Moondoor Dunkel is loaded with flavors of cocoa nibs, chocolate and roasted malts. Not to mention, this lager finishes clean, and it’s an easy one to enjoy with salty snacks.

Curling up with a good book
Outside, the wind chill has dipped below zero, and the snowdrifts are building. But in here, it’s warm, and a good book can transport you to the sweltering heat of the South or to sun-dappled sidewalks along Larchmont Boulevard. There’s no better time to catch up on your reading than on a cold winter’s day. Especially if you…

…are ready to feel feelings long repressed. The Traveling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel. Life and loss through the eyes of a cat may sound saccharine and cloying, but Arikawa’s storytelling steers clear of a myriad of traps and sneakily curls up in your lap. You’ll want to stay in these pages forever.

…want to figure out what everyone’s been talking about. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. When Reese Witherspoon tapped it for her Hello Sunshine Book Club back in September 2018, library hold lists grew by months, and Crawdad climbed to the top of the New York Times best seller’s list for 20 non-consecutive weeks. You can still overhear readers discussing this coming-of-age tale in coffee shops and in lines at the supermarket. Time to figure out what all the fuss is about.

…are ready to confront some of our most frustrating failures. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell. What do Sandra Bland, Amanda Knox, Bernie Madoff, “El Alpinista” and Friends have in common? They all shed light on one of our greatest difficulties: understanding and communicating with strangers. Using his patented approach to problem-solving, Gladwell pulls on threads until he uncovers the reasons why we get so much wrong about the things that seem so rudimentary.

…are ready to step up your cooking game. Bobby At Home, by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. Flay’s been one of America’s top chefs for decades now, and he still has a slew of tricks up his sleeve: From what chilies to keep on hand to cooking ingredients separately before assembling them into dishes. Plus, he has a few tips for sweet treats. Try his chocolate chip cookie recipe; it’ll make grandma jealous.

…are in need of a giggle and a grin. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman. Nina Hill has things just the way she likes them. But then her long-lost father goes and dies, inadvertently connecting Nina with a much larger family that she now has to get to know. Talk to a bunch of strangers? Nina ought to grab a copy of Gladwell’s book to navigate those seas. It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Bridget Jones, and a whole lot of sunshine.