The Great Hibernation of 2020

Winter. Always a dirty word in my book, no matter where we have lived. The worst was when we lived in Pennsylvania. It was a year of record lows, plenty of snow shoveling and icy road driving. The west coast of Denmark has allowed us to experience another kind of winter.

Winter in Esbjerg means wet, windy and very dark. I can deal with wet. I can deal with windy. Dark is an entirely different animal. Beginning mid November the hours of sunlight (sun glowing through overcast skies) became limited. Our shortest days had sunrise around 9 a.m. and setting around 3:30 p.m. That was hard. January was long.

What added to the seemingly never ending darkness was my work day beginning around 2 p.m. due to the Europe / U.S. time difference. I felt like I should get all hyggelig (cozy) when it was getting dark while clients were just arriving at the office to start their day.

Most recently the sea’s storms and wind has been intense. High tide has meant flooding at the harbor. There have been days that the wind is so strong, it rattles the interior doors of our apartment. (Photo from the local newspaper, Ugeavisen)

With the weekends of rain, wind, cold and dark, John and I didn’t travel much. However, we did do things to battle the cold and darkness, they just happened inside.

Hygge is a word you may hear in the States when Denmark is in the news as one of the happiest places on Earth. There is no direct translation, but it is the art of being cozy in your home. So, we spent the end of December, January and most of February in a state of hygge. We gathered in friends’ homes for home cooked meals, hosted Danish friends for taco night and a movie, lit candles at the dinner table – another Danish tradition to bring more light into the home – read and got crafty.

Take a look.

A drive up the coast to BlÄvand on a particularly foggy day just to get out of the apartment.
Rowing in a marathon relay at the local gym. This was a bit ridiculous, I admit, but fun after the fact.
Spending time at the coffee shop catching up with friends so we get some fresh air and change of scenery.
Attending international functions. This was a welcome-to-the-municipality presentation by the mayor and the newcomer’s service. There were more than 15 nations represented at the event. The best part was the tour of the town hall.
Buying myself flowers as a reminder that there is light somewhere so things can grow!
We took advantage of a cold, yet sunny, day for a walk along the beach.
We gathered for mussels with friends. Thank you, Stine!
Another friend invited us for a Burns’ Night Supper, which is a celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns, complete with the salute to haggis. No pictures of that one, but it was a blast!
I got crafty and stitched tea towels for me and a friend.
John continued to enjoy the simple pleasures. It is never too cold for ice cream!
Today, I saw the light at the end of the winter tunnel. God put a rainbow in the sky, and I can’t help but think this is a little reminder that spring is around the corner. The days are longer and we will soon be basking in the sun at 10 p.m. I can’t wait!

Until the sun shines again, hej, hej!


  1. Looks like you made all the best with the short days! Maybe next year a trip to the Seychelles in mid-winter. I find a couple week break in the middle of the cold and dark does wonders for me! As always, thank you for posting your updates! Cheers. Ernest


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