Living with a Sauna

After a winter of nights in the hot room we were confident that our trip to Finland in March would have us ready for the nightly sauna that would follow every long day out on the snow.

Following a long day, Scott and Rebecca on the way to the 5 PM sauna, Sarkijarvi, Finland

And we were right. We only wish we had had more time on snow before the trip—though once again we covered some ground, close to 300k, including adventures on wonderful new terrain.

scott and mark in sarkijarivi, finland
Scott and Mark, forty years of skiing together (yes, we are counting)

It is now late May at Water Run Farm. Memories of Lapland have faded a bit. The fruit trees blossomed and the pollinators went to work. Eighteen new chickens are now in the barn, too, keeping us company as we shelter in place, working and studying, grateful for one another, the interval of our lives, and the gift of the place we find ourselves sheltering.

We have been enjoying the sauna for some time, of course, and our ritual is kindling a fire, filling buckets with water from the pond to heat, and walking down and around the pond and climbing the granite steps. Since returning from Sarkijarvi, where Rebecca transformed into an ice-water goddess, we most often do a couple of dips before an outdoor rinse with warm pond water. Some evenings, after we towel off, we cool down in the warm room, or drift into sleep on the cedar plank bench.

February full moon

But this Finnish sauna is more process than a product—at least the work goes on, when it can. Though as Mark is preoccupied with academic work and a couple of writing projects, or getting the garden in, a robin weaves a nest with dried stalks from last year’s day lilies on one of the beams above the porch; ans she has almost become tolerant of our comings and goings as she hunkers down on her eggs.

Interior decorated

Earlier this month Mark brought some better soil up from the lower field in the tractor and planted grass seed and the areas around the sauna are filling in. We really should get on the door sills and the door latches; and closing in the top of the boxed-in beams and doing some caulking will both make it less likely we will not be sharing the sauna space with a nest of wasps later this summer. We need to seal the floor and the splash walls, among other interior jobs. There is some stone work to do on the entry to the pond–especially with memories of the easy-peasy entry into the waters of Sarkijarvi. Our farrier Tim is bringing something he welded for the exterior wall of the building, too. And at some point we will need to hang more hooks inside for clothing and towels. And then there is getting to the wood for next year.

silent skies bluer than believing)a
little gay
earth opening
is all the flowers of his eyes
:april’s they

little gay / earth opening / is all the flowers of his eyes / :april’s they

this if now
or this(young
trembling any) into flame
twig or limb
explodes and o
each living ablaze greenly thing
;may has come

love(by yes
every new
bird no bigger than to sing)
leaf is wing
and tree is voice
more leastfully than i am you
,we are spring

This is the third in a series of posts that includes The Autobiography of an Idea and How to Build a Sauna. Poem is “Spring” by E. E. Cummings

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