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Its a Sauna Thing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

life between sauna rounds in the U.P. Michigan.
Brian Confer

Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine is a monthly magazine about life in Northern Michigan, USA.  Their January 2013 edition, via their online publication MyNorth.com, features this wonderful article by Jeff Smith detailing sauna life in The Upper Peninsula (U.P.).  The U.P. is rich in sauna culture, as it is home to many Finnish immigrants and boasts an ideal sauna climate: crisp star filled winter nights and heaping amounts of lake effect snow off the big lake they call, um…Superior.

Many interesting antidotes:

  • “sauna is temple, cleansing ritual and meditation, fellowship, family and community.”
  • “local Finnish reggae band, Conga Se Mene, the band with the sauna beat.”  For some sauna enthusiasts, sauna and Reggae go together like Buffalo Wings and beer.
  • Terrance Lyons reminiscing about his Grandfather and sauna rocks: ““Whenever we would go on an adventure to the lakeshore, my grandfather would pick a stone to take back to the sauna,” Lyons says. His grandpa passed away a year ago, but when Lyons looks at one sauna stone or another, he recalls a vivid image: a particular moment when his grandpa stooped to pocket that rock.”
  • Fred Huffman explaining sauna life while away from the U.P. for a stint: ““They all had electric stoves, not wood burning. They weren’t rustic. It wasn’t the same thing,” Huffman says. “A lot of them that I saw got used once or twice a year. It was just another thing they had to have to make their house complete.””

Thanks Jeff Smith for bringing a slice of U.P. sauna culture to saunatimes readers.

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