As many in the north country can attest, one of life’s great pleasures resides in the tradition of sauna–sitting in 180-plus-degree heat and throwing cool water on oven-hot stones to create a blast of steam (called löyly), followed by a jump in the lake, standing naked in subzero temperatures (or even rolling in the snow), or just relaxing on the cooling porch. To the uninitiated, there is a strange, alluring mystique to the art of Finnish sauna. But to an ever-increasing number of people–from their small urban saunas to backwoods and lakeside retreats–the culture and practice of Finnish sauna are as much a part of northwoods life as campfires and canoe trips.
Beginning with the origins of Finnish sauna and arrival of the practice to North America, and continuing all the way to contemporary design, The Opposite of Cold is an exquisite commemoration of the history, culture, and practice of Finnish sauna in the north woods. With stunning photographs of unique and historic saunas of the region–including the oldest sauna in North America, incredible surviving saunas from immigrant farmsteads, and the gorgeous contemporary saunas from noted architects–Michael Nordskog and Aaron W. Hautala unveil the importance and beauty of sauna culture in modern Midwestern life.
Richly illuminated by Hautala’s photographs of distinctive saunas from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and Finland, The Opposite of Cold is for people who grew up with Wednesday and Saturday evening saunas (or watched their steaming neighbors running toward the lake) and for those who dream of one day having their own. Through this book we see why Finnish sauna tradition is vital and enduring, from the warmest summer evenings to the coldest winter nights.
Michael Nordskog grew up in the heart of North American sauna country. He works as an attorney, writer, and editor, and he lives with his wife and three children in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Aaron W. Hautala is the creative director and owner of RedHouseMedia in Brainerd, Minnesota. He has helped launch a variety of magazines and was the founding art director at Lake Country Journal. His photographs have appeared widely throughout Minnesota.
Details on this event are here.–David E