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.