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 a roll 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 how the practice was first brought 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 northwoods. 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 Hautala unveil the importance and beauty of sauna culture in modern Midwestern life.
Richly illuminated by Aaron 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. And through this book we see why Finnish sauna tradition is vital and enduring, from the warmest summer evenings to the coldest winter nights.
About the Author
Michael Nordskog is an attorney, editor, and writer who grew up in Two Harbors, Minnesota. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Rake and Lake County Journal, and he is a former contributor to A Prairie Home Companion.
Aaron 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.
David Salmela is an award-winning architect practicing out of Duluth, Minnesota. Considered one of America's leading practitioners of critical regionalism, his contemporary sauna designs are highly recognized.
Arnold Alanen is professor emeritus of landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin and the author of Morgan Park: Duluth, U.S. Steel, and the Forging of a Company Town (Minnesota, 2007).
"The Finnish sauna is often a modest structure, made of wood and stone. Over time the wood rots, the stones crack, and finally all that is left are memories. But what memories! I can’t think of any human activity except eating that brings people together with such wholeness. Mind, body, and spirit are fused by the heat and steam, and we are collectively reminded of all the things that make us uniquely human. Author Michael Nordskog and photographer Aaron W. Hautala have created a fitting tribute to the great sauna tradition of northern Minnesota. The Opposite of Cold makes permanent the fleeting memories of the early Finnish immigrants and the generations that followed. This is an important work and it honors everything it touches." —Mikkel Aaland, author of Sweat
"This beautifully illustrated guide to the saunas of not only Minnesota but also Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Finland celebrates a very old tradition while revealing its importance to modern Midwestern culture. . . . It’s a lovely tribute to North America’s ‘sauna belt.’" —Chicago Tribune
"This lovely, intelligent book examines sauna tradition in the United States (primarily in the regions around Lake Superior) as well as in Finland. Beautifully illustrated with every possible sauna photo you can imagine—interiors, exteriors, saunas on farms, along lakeshores, in cities, saunas in high summer, saunas in the snow." —Star Tribune