The moon shines down on our snowy path in the wintery woods. My mom and I use the moonlight and a flashlight to help us navigate the trail. Our boots crunch the snow. In the distance, we begin to see Burntside Lake. The frozen and snow-covered lake reflects the moonlight. We pause in the still night to look at the beautiful sight and consider what we are about to do.
We are in in the Boundary Waters Canoe area in Northern Minnesota in the depths of winter in February. We are on our way to take part in an important winter Scandinavian ritual– the winter sauna. This is not something to try for the faint of heart, both literally and figuratively.
We arrive at a small log cabin surrounded by a deck. A metal ramp off the deck leads down to the lake. It has a sign “Finnish Sauna” at its entrance. We enter the building. The cabin has two rooms. The first room is a changing room with benches along the wall. Women of all ages fill the room in a variety of stages of undress. At nine years old, I am the youngest person there. A girl surrounded by women.
This is an excerpt of an essay I wrote about my experience in a winter sauna in Minnesota. The entire essay is on Medium. Read the rest of the essay on Medium.