Sometimes I miss my grandparents’ sauna.
Their sauna is located in their barn, and we have had many good baths there thru my life.
The most special baths took place in the winter time.
We often went to visit my grandparents over our winter breaks from school. The winter break, or Sport Break as it is also called, took (still does) place sometime between mid-February to mid-March. That week is supposed to be a week when you have time off from school to enjoy winter activities, like skiing, skating etc.
We usually took the ferry-boat from Stockholm over to Åbo in Finland, and then we jumped on the bus that took us 300 kilometers north to Närpes in Ostrobothnia (Österbotten) ,the Swedish speaking parts of Finland.
It was just lovely to arrive with the bus to the bus station in Näsby. As soon as we got off the bus we were just jumping with joy when we felt the crisp, cold air and saw all the snow!
But, the best thing of all was to see my grandparents again, to be back on their farm, Stenö, again. I think all of us in my family consider Stenö to be one of the worlds most magical places.
But, wait, I am losing myself in memories now. I was not going to write about the winter breaks, per se. I was going to write about THE SAUNA! But one thing leads to another and yet again I lose myself to memories and nostalgia.
ANYWAY, one of the highlights on these trips was to take a bath in the sauna, or in the bastu, as we say in Swedish.
My grandma or my grandpa went out to the sauna mid-day to put lots of birch fire-wood inside the sauna-stove. They had to keep track of the fire, it was not allowed burn out, and it had to be maintained for hours. Then, around 5-6 in the evening the sauna was ready for us to enjoy. And, boy, did we enjoy it!! Just to walk out in the dead of a cold winters night dressed in just robes was fun, then we walked into the sauna from the bitter-cold outside, and inside the sauna it was HOT. When we poured water on the rocks on the stove it got even hotter and it got oh so humid.
We washed ourselves off, enjoyed it some more and then it was time for the most fun thing of them all; to go outside and roll yourself in the snow buck naked!
I can still recall the feeling, the dark night, the ice cold air, the starry sky and the snow! Sometimes the snow was soft and fluffy, but often it had a sheet of thin (or THICK, for that matter) ice on it and then it hurt to throw oneself in it. But, we did not care, not at all. It was just too exciting to pass it up. So, we went back and forth, from the snow outside back into the hot sauna. Oh the memories, how lovely they are.
Pic from luleå.se
When we got back inside the main house we always enjoyed an ice cold soda, and we loved and savored it. My parents hardly ever kept soda at our home in Stockholm, but at my grandparents we’d always drink it on a daily basis. And, you’d better believe it; after the sauna a soda was a given. The adults always enjoyed an ice cold beer, a Karhu, Koff or a Lapin Kulta.
And later on, on those cold, dark nights we would all drink loads of hot tea and enjoy about five hot open sandwiches each loaded with emmenthal cheese, butter, ham and tomatoes…No calorie counting back then, oh no.
My goodness, I miss those winter breaks, I miss Stenö and I miss Närpes!!! It’s been so long now since I took a bath in a sauna in the dead of winter. Every summer we enjoy said sauna, but what wouldn’t I do to go back in the winter again and just re-live the memories.
And today it is a BIG day here in the DC-area! Citizens ( in Virginia, DC and Maryland) are voting in the presidental primaries, but not me, since I am not a citizen (arrgghh) yet.
You all know by now that I am a huge fan of Hillary Clinton and I so hope that it'll be her in the end. Go HILL, go!!!
But, on the other hand the most important thing is that we will see a democrat sitting in the White House come January 2009!
Have a good Tuesday!