Sunday, April 25, 2010
Our sauna is unusual in that it has a loft above. When began building it, it occurred to me that by adding four extra feet of wall we could have a mini camp. So why not?
Next to the sauna one of the feeders of Cowles creek wells out of the ground. We built a wooden box and sunk it into the ground so that the water is about 5 feet deep. Since the water continually pours out a hole in the back of the box, it never warms up. It stays around 45 degrees F year round.
The sauna experience begins with fetching water from the spring and firing up the stove.
Here Marja is partially filling the wash basins. We also haul water for the hot water tank inside the sauna proper.
Of course some water is left in a bucket for throwing onto the rocks for steam.
No, we don't really wear towels in the sauna.
The rocks on the stove are from Lake Superior. The ones with holes are vesicular basalt - rocks that formed from liquid magma with gas bubbles. Here in the Copper Country some of these pockets contained copper- amygdaloidal deposits, as they were called. Believe it or not, there are sauna shops in Thunder Bay, on the very shore of Lake Superior, that sell rocks imported from Finland. Like importing ice cubes to Greenland.
After you have been in the sauna for awhile, the path to the spring beckons.
The first dip always feels the coldest. After the second or third it starts feeling bearable. If you do it too many times you run the risk however of throwing your internal thermostat out of wack and you may have a restless night feeling hot and cold at the same time.
We wear bathing suits during the spring and summer - at least until the swamp grass grows high enough to block the view from the county road. During the darkness of winter it doesn't matter.
After a dip in the dunk tank, the path to the spring leads back to the sauna quite quickly.
After several trips between the steam room and the spring, we wash up in the wash room and finally dry off and cool off on the "porch". To experience a sauna you need to take your time and do everything leisurely. If you're in a hurry, just take a shower. Of course, a shower will never get you as clean as a sauna or give you that sense of total relaxation a sauna gives, but hey, you shouldn't be relaxing anyway. Take your shower and get back to work. Someone needs to pick up the slack for loafers like me.