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Steam of Life

Premiere Date: August 2, 2011

'The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition'

Sauna etiquette sometimes requires explanation: Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minnesota, a popular crosscountry skiing destination, offers guests a choice between "suit" and "no suit" saunas, and this list of guidelines.

Saunas became popular across most of the continent due more to Life magazine and home-and-garden shows than Finnish ancestry. They are a standard feature in any health club that dares to put an umlaut on its name, and they sprout near hotel pools like cedar seeds in hothouse soil. But the sauna as a distinct building in the landscape is still a largely regional phenomenon.

Text excerpts and photographs taken from The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition by Michael Nordskog, photography by Aaron W. Hautala. Published by the University of Minnesota Press, 2010. Copyright 2010 by Michael Nordskog. Photographs copyright 2010 by Aaron W. Hautala.

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