Cozy by definition (part 2 in the “Any port in a snowstorm” series)

Cozy.

I wonder what chance meeting inspired this word  to skate over from the Norwegian kos seg and cuddlle down at the hearth of 18th century Scots, where it felt so comfy, it decided to stay and change its name to colsie.  Could it have been an invitation from one trader to another to enjoy the  refuge of a sod-roofed  cottage, turf fire glowing? A chat between quilt makers, showing off their craft?  A coy offer from a Norse goddess to a man in plaid?

Etymologists leave that story to our imaginations.  But they’re fairly certain that down through the ages, the word “cozy” has always meant cozy.   I like knowing that. It suggests a long-standing human need  for places and situations that provide warmth, comfort, and relaxation. Whether facing the harshness of life on the fjords or moors 300 years ago, or struggling with 21st century stressors, it seems that our craving for cozy is innate.

IMG_20140215_141537My husband and I are no different. When we’re knee deep in February, and spring seems to be in permanent hibernation, we sometimes seek solace at the Georgetown Inn in Canmore, a comfortable 3.5 hour drive southwest into the Rocky Mountains. The Inn is one of twelve Charming Inns of Alberta, each of which has its own personality to share with travellers. The lobby of the Georgetown, named for a small community that served a short-lived coal  mine in the early 20th century, is as welcoming and unassuming as your favorite granny’s home.  You’ll be greeted by  wing chairs, a grandfather clock, and a nostalgic second look at your mother’s old Singer sewing machine,  your uncle’s battered typewriter , and the yellowed history book you once found pushed back on a dusty library shelf.IMG_20140214_155723

There are only 20 rooms at the Georgetown, each uniquely cozy.  Indulging in either a “Victoria” or an “Albert”  gets you a sitting room separate from the bedroom, a hot tub, and a fireplace – but there are room options for every budget. The “glad you’re here” lobby ambience follows you into your room, where you’ll find homemade cookies and a floral tea set on a tray, just waiting for you to enjoy a steaming cuppa.IMG_20140214_154825

From that point on, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. We have sometimes cross-country skied the trails around the Canmore Nordic Centre, drinking in the azure skies and the snow-striated mountain peaks. But this year, we opted for  low-key lesiure. We watched more and less of several classic Academy Award nominee films.  I delighted one more time in the Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head biking scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  And if you’ve never seen Tennessee Williams’ sizzling Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, I highly recommend it.

Our most ambitious activity was a trip to Banff, Canmore’s more well-known, glamorous, up the road sister.  If you’ve never been to Banff, it’s worth the trip for sure. But the main street is crowded with tourists and tourist amenities, both of which we were glad to leave behind for the quieter community feel of Canmore. Although it has fewer shops,  the merchandise for sale is less kitschy,  you’ll be supporting more local business owners, and you’ll have ample room to breathe as you make your purchases.

Canmore also offers a selection of interesting places to eat. We enjoyed small plate dining at Tapas  restaurant one evening, and Thai, French, Mexican, and East Indian culinary experiences were in easy reach as well . But when it came time to either put on our coats and drive a few minutes to have a meal, or wander down the hall in our sheepskin slippers to the Georgetown’s Miner’s Lamp Dining Room and Pub, you can guess which we chose. IMG_20140214_160242  At breakfast, we were often the only patrons, sitting at the table closest to the fireplace, drinking third and fourth cups of coffee as the flames flickered and danced. In the evening,  groups of local friends and families dropped by the pub for a draft or fish ‘n’ chips or shepherd’s pie. If you don’t even have enough energy to leave your room for dinner, the Georgetown will happily  provide you with a picnic basket,  wine, and chocolate-dipped strawberries.IMG_20140214_155246

When we arrived home from Canmore, we realized that the middle of the month had disappeared and we were on the downward slope to March.  On my walk to work this morning, I heard birdsong for the first time in weeks, and it was already light  So, if winter is dragging you under a little right now, and you’re feeling a lot less than cozy, keep in mind the easy-to-access destinations that could be waiting for you a few hours from where you’re reading this post. While it’s true that a change is as good as a rest, it’s even better when you can find both in the same short-hop vacation .

3 comments

  1. This transported me to your lovely hotel room and the town of Canmore. You described it so vividly. You painted a very cozy picture and I thinik I will need to check out this little treasure of an Inn!

  2. Thanks, Amy. I think you would enjoy the Georgetown: it would be a place I would go as a single traveller as well because it doesn’t have that cold, impersonal feel of a hotel. We think we need to check out some of the other Charming Inns of Alberta. They all look delightful!

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