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Steam of Life

Premiere Date: August 2, 2011

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

A timber frame sauna built at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota, commands a rocky Lake Superior shore.

A century past the peak of Finnish immigration to North America, sauna is now the one word of Finnish that, depending on the pronunciation, most Americans and Canadians would recognize (too much authentic "ah-oo" and you lose plenty). Any debate over whether it is a healthful practice should succumb to that very fact. Finnish immigration did not fuel this widespread popularity as much as the Helsinki Olympics in the 1950s, the dawning awareness of the commercial potential of wellness in the 1960s, and the sprawling basement prosperity of the subsequent decades.

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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