This summer may be the last time I can take a sauna here, in my mother's sauna. Each summer, I think this. It's all so familiar, the rugs she wove, on the floors and benches, the sauna stove, the tin tub on the wall that the kids would play in, and the noodles! She built a fire, in the sauna stove. She likes to build fires. She grew up on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota and has been building fires in wood stoves most of her life. When the sauna was pretty warm, we went in together. Though it was cool and windy, I went into the lake twice to cool down. Lake water, after being in the sauna, feels so soft and silky. I float around as long as I can, lazily swimming, listening to the little splashy noise my hands make in the water, with the good taste of lake water at the back of my throat. I like to sink my face down into the water until my eyes are just at lake level, and look across to the far shore.
My mom kept sticking her head out of the sauna screen door to check on me! Then she came out the door in her bra and underpants to hang her towel on the line. I'm not coming in, she said. How is it? Is the water nice?
It's cold, but there are warm spots, too. I knew she wanted to come in. She loves the water. She was a good diver. I remember when we grew up, that she was the only mother at our neighborhood swimming pool who would swan dive off the high dive. The stone steps down into the lake are uneven, though, pushed by the crazy ice melt last spring, and we both know she shouldn't try it.
Here they are, my mom, Irene, and my little sister, Jody, too.
Oh, what a lovely post. Got a rush of memories of my grandparents' sauna in northern Minnesota--rag rugs, dipping pan and all. Thank you for sharing.
Ann, Thank you. I'm glad this gave you a reason to remember your sauna past. Some of my best memories are swimming at the lake as kids, running in and out of the sauna
...this post made me remember those days like it was yesterday, and it was my life. I love your posts, Susan--so tactile in imagery--photos and words.
Such a sweet photo of your mom & sister. I think I will still pull my daughter onto my lap when I am old and she is middle-aged (we are 45 & 14 now):)
such a loving post
the words and images
a sauna, ha
makes me think of my brother
and the sauna we took together
at his place in Finland
the only times i felt comfortable with it ;^))
thanks for sharing
and the image of your mum and sister
a wonderful one
Love these pictures of the sauna you grew up with, the sister and mom too. Hope you get to go back again next year.
Dawn. You always encourage me, and I'm so happy if you get a sense of my experience, and sauna is very tactile.
Jennifer, thank you. My little sister always sat on her lap in the morning, when she was too young to go to school yet. I saw the light reflecting off the lake while we were having breakfast, and how nice their faces looked, so I said, Sit on Mom's lap. It's a sweet picture for me.
Patrice, I know. We take our clothes off, and it's so quiet and warm, and peaceful. Not strange, at all. I have pictures of my 3 little kids sitting in this sauna when they were little. Pretty and sweet
Kathy, thanks. I may get back again, but my parents are thinking of selling the lake house and moving to town now.
Winter is long in Ely, and lots of snow and ice. You know about making these decisions.
Missing my mom.....gone a year soon.....enjoy yours every day you can.
Beautiful words and pictures. My mom is fading but still herself in many ways. Mainly in the ritual of work.
Hilary, Has it been a year already? So sad when we lose our mothers who have been with us since before Day 1.
I know. My mom is drifting away. She knows, too. It's very tender.
and here we are susan, at that age, when we are to watch our iron range mama's age... our children pulling to make their ways, our parents on paths we never anticipated..... lifes memories held tightly in the wee hours when we wake and our minds don't stop....
Have to comment again - the mom thoughts are so close to home here. Hard to see your mom grow older in ways that, as someone said, you never could anticipate. On one hand, wishing I could have her here to take care of. On the other hand, knowing that wouldn't work for me or for her. She is tired of living and not being able to do what she used to do - slowly everything is taken away and yet she goes on. It takes courage to grow old.
amen "riverweave" amen.... it takes courage for us to watch.....
Kathy, I'm afraid for her. She is matter of fact, I'm getting old, it is what it is. She's the one who always took care of the problem, untangled the impossible yarn tangles, Told us not to worry. I'd always be relieved after I told her my big problem. She was right. I've heard so many stories from women who've lived through their mother' s old aging, but I don't have a clue what I should do
Carol, and yet, it is a very simple process, aging, and best not to agonize over possibilities
I read this post about your mother and the sauna after I read your newer one about writing class.
The writing in both posts is so very moving. My heart is still in my throat as I write this puny comment.
your mom too.
Hey, Judy. Puny? Not at all. I loved what you just told me.
If I can write words about feeling that will cause someone else to feel something, it's a miracle! Thank you.
Dear Susan ...
I just found you and am encouraged by your blog, your beautiful photos and words, your weaving ... I was showing this to my 'just retired' husband (who often helps me with my weaving projects!) and the memories of his first sauna came rushing back! We both grew up in Minnesota but have lived in Tennessee for over 30 years now. Thanks for the inspiration and love!
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