Guest post series continues: Please welcome Mike from under the stars in Northern Minnesota. Enter Mike:
Glenn and the Saunatimes regulars,
Greetings from the 218. It’s been awhile since I sat down and put pen to paper for a guest post. Several solo sauna sessions lately gave me time to sit on the top bench and think. Don’t get me wrong, sauna with family and friends is hard to beat, but so too are occasional solo rounds, which usually take place around 9:30 or 10 PM. Maybe I lit the stove at 7, thinking we would all take steam at 8, and for one reason or another it didn’t happen. Since I hate to waste an armload of birch just because I’m getting tired, I’ll take a round or two by myself.
During these recent evening rounds, I’ve been thinking that sauna is a different experience at 180º F. and rising than at 180º F and falling. The steam takes on a different personality depending on which way the Kuuma is heading. Whereas the cooling stove produces an easy, friendly steam, the heating stove unleashes an angrier, more insistent steam. If you picture your sixties hippy neighbor and your old Italian neighbor, you can kind of see my point. Neither one is bad, and I don’t necessarily prefer one over the other, they’re just different. Much like the people with whom we choose to sit the bench, you just learn to enjoy their differences.
When taking a solo sauna, I’ve also rediscovered an underrated, oft-overlooked sauna feature: the close shave between rounds. A bowl of hot lake water and a stop at the changing room mirror on the way to the lake produces a shave damn near as good as a hot towel treatment at the barber shop, and it’s free.
Pair the sauna and shave with a cool down swim in a pristine lake, add some stars in the night sky, and background music playing softly from your iPod, and the result is pure heaven.
Enjoy these late days of summer, my friends, and keep the steam going.
Mike Furlong, South Sturgeon Lake.