She pulled into the driveway and her headlights lit up the Johnson’s sauna. Smoke curled out of its chimney and a bright window lit the white bark of a birch tree next to it.

She got out of her car. The stars were bright, dimmed only by an even brighter moon. There was no need for porch lights on a night like this. Beth jumped, startled to see two men standing behind a truck. She knew one of them.

“Hi, Danny.”

A smile stretched across his face. “This is my friend Russ. Russ, this is Beth.”

“Hi, Russ.” Beth moved around the truck to shake hands with the bearded man. As she moved, the guys circled to the other side. Steam rose off their bare chests.

In this scene from Snow Country, Beth caught the guys having a breather. Yoopers are serious about their saunas. For one thing, if you say saw-na they will correct you. It’s sow’-na, with the accent on the first syllable.

Some settle for the convenience of an indoor sauna with an electric stove, but most prefer a woodfired sauna with cedar walls and benches.

Often water is heated on the stove while the room gets up to temperature, 145 at least, or 185 degrees for the hot-blooded Finns.

A little splash of water on the rocks will initiate a good sweat.

If you have trouble breathing, don’t quit yet. Take a breather. The uninitiated wear bathing suits, but if you’re having a traditional sauna, and if the sauna door faces the house, members of the opposite sex will oblige you by not looking out the windows.

Go back into the sauna and repeat the process until you and your friends have solved all the world’s problems.

 

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It’s Sow’-na

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One thought on “It’s Sow’-na

  1. I love this! Humor, facts, light-heartedness. I look forward to your book Kristin. I love how you take a simple part of everyday life and draw a lesson from it, an encouragement, and make it a balm. I feel better for having read your posts. 🙂

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