By: Megan Filak
Months into a pandemic with COVID cases climbing and kitchens multi-tasking as classrooms, home offices and everything in between, more people are discovering friluftsliv.
Pronounced “free-loofts-leev,” friluftsliv roughly translates to “open/ free-air living.” It is an appreciation of what time in nature can do for the mind, body and spirit and involves spending time outdoors in all seasons. Here in Northeast Pennsylvania, getting outside in spring, summer and fall is easy with warm to mild temperatures. But it takes on a whole different feeling in the winter when temperatures hover around or below freezing, daylight shrinks and snow covers the once-green grass. Those short days and cold air are just as much a part of winter in Scandinavian countries, like Norway and Sweden, but are not enough stop people from bundling up and heading outside. It is so ingrained into the culture there that, for many, time to roam and explore in nature is a major part of both the school day and work day regardless of the weather.
Research shows being outdoors has a number of benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, along with improving focus and creativity. Friluftsliv is all about uncomplicated time in the fresh air, soaking in all those benefits. Now, during this time of COVID, it is more important than ever to spend time in nature. Not only is the risk of transmission reduced outdoors, but with so many changes to our daily lives adding new stresses and worries, a walk in the woods, fishing by a lake or sitting by a stream goes a long way to boost our well-being.
Finding the space for friluftsliv isn’t hard to do in Luzerne County. With four state parks, wide-open spaces, miles of trails, along with more than 90 lakes and 130 streams, it is just a matter of grabbing your coat and gloves and stepping out into the crisp, fresh air.
Friluftsliv in Luzerne County
Hiking and Biking