Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sauna on Saturday

Like wearing red shoes or a red dress, opening a red door is auspicious. You never know what kind of strange world you might find behind a red door. Particularly if you are peculiar.

Today I was a Bohemian. A red label day. Completely chucked my chores. I should've been catching up on my long list of should's but instead, I went out wandering.

Bohemian, bo-he'mi-an, n. [Fr. Bohemien, a gypsy, because the first of that wandering race that entered France were believed to be Hussites driven from Bohemia, their native country.] A person, especially an artist or literary man, who leads a free, often somewhat dissipated life, despising conventionalities generally.

Of course, I am not a man, and I have no idea what a Hussite is/was, and my despising is contained to conventionalities of capitalisms generally. This dated definition is from edition A to RESOURCE of my red 1969 beat-up double set of Webster's Dictionary of the English Language purchased many years ago at the library discard sale for $1 each.

It's been raining steady for a few days, and it was raining this morning too when I looked out the window. A chill 3+ Celsius said the thermometer. What happened to spring? And this morning I'd promised Armi I'd drive out to Warnica Lake by 11 am for a sauna. Should I nip out to Mission Island Marsh in hopes of finding the swans? After a bit of to-and-fro'ing to myself on whether I had the time and whether the weather was worth it, I decided to make a thermos of coffee and just go. I'll get back at 10:30 in plenty of time. So I thought. Putting on my rain gear I rationalized, who knows? maybe my chances of seeing the tundra swans is better in the rain. After all, ducks like rain and birds don't mind it either. Their feathers protect them from getting wet. Oh, for feathers in the rain!

Here is a view of Nanabijou from Mission Island. The 3 islands in front of "the Giant" are the 3 sisters. I told you about those sisters before. Looking out across the lake, it wasn't long before I saw a blue heron bounding through the skies. If you've seen a blue heron flying, you know what I mean when I say 'bounding through the skies.'

I walked along the beach a bit. This is looking northeast. It wasn't long before I saw something else happening in the sky. Right over the lake at this spot, I saw a herring gull squabbling in the sky with a bald eagle. The eagle was mottled brown and white with a tremendous wing span. Yet despite that the eagle was more than double the size of the herring gull ~ which is a large bird with a wing span of 55" ~ the gull managed to harass the raptor and after a series of cut-and-chase moves, sent the eagle scavenging out into the south.

I looked down and saw this baby polar bear-shaped glimmer of ice lying on the cobble, thrown to shore by the icy surf. I was already starting to get chilly.

Next, a salamander crossed my path.

Then, the cover of a medicine chest emerged from behind by a twig of red dogwood. Dizzy from trying to decipher buffleheads from goldeneyes, and whether that small woodpecker was a downy or a hairy, I returned to my car and warmed my hands on the cup of coffee I poured from the thermos.

Returning home, I picked up my daughter and headed in the opposite direction ~ out Dog Lake Road.

You can drive just out of the city, away from the warming influence of the lake in winter, and be accosted by a sudden change in temperature and weather conditions. The surprise of an ice storm greeted us just before Surprise Lake. It was like we drove through a window into frost. Everything this side of the window was damp with rain, misty and gray, then like driving through an invisible curtain, everything that side was white as a fresh sheet. Everything, everything, covered in frost, ice, and snow. Like we drove into an ice box.

Warnica Lake from the sauna door. A moss-covered erratic left behind during the original Ice Age stands in front of some conifers and birches gracing the winter-returned landscape. The sound of snappings and sighings, slushings and slippings, can be heard coming from the trees. An immense dark brown hawk suddenly appeared overhead. It flew over the roof top and across the lake. Maybe it was an eagle? Does a hawk have such an immense wingspan?

A purple finch perches on an ice-encrusted birch branch. You can't tell from this photo, but this purple finch is actually red. It's a male; the females are non-descript brown. There were 4 finches, not quite a flock, which is known as a "charm of finches" or a "trembling of finches". However, this purple finch may have been trembling because of the ghost town that arrived unexpectedly, in the guise of snow and ice. I snapped this photo on my way down to the....

Sauna. This small red luukku [hatch] is where you put the logs in to heat the sauna. Just open the latch -- be sure to put on an oven mitt first! ...

Embers make for a hot sauna, but you do need to add logs regularly to really get the heat going. Different logs from different trees make different heat. Some burn slow; some burn fast. Some burn hot as hell. Get your buckets of water from the lake first, else how will you wash yourself? or throw a bucket of water over your head to cool down? Lay a pefletti down on the top bench before you sit down; it could simply be a small towel. Be sure to hang a large towel by the sauna fire so it is warm when you need to towel yourself off. Nothing like a hot towel on a cold day.

Here is the stack of logs and pink bucket of tinder logs to stoke the fire. It was a perfect day for a sauna by the lake. I had envisioned a sunny lounging sort of sauna-at-the-lake day, but it was not to be. The lake is still frozen over, although Armi said last year this time she had already "taken off her winter fur coat", that is, dunked in the lake for the first time since winter. Today's weather forebodes further disruptions to warming. Yet, after a sauna you won't even feel the chill in the air when you walk back to the house. The sauna chases chills. Adds a redness to cheeks, both on the face and ...that which faces the pefletti.

Surprisingly, the sun peeked through on the way home. The ice fingers on the red shrubs by this pond show clear signs of melting. This pond of mirrors is just off of Howcum Lake Road, which is the turn off to Warnica Lake. You should drive down this road slowly so not to run over the ruffed grouse (what we call partridge) or the baby moose that were crossing the road today.

The sun crossed back into the clouds, well before we returned home.

No comments: