Skin hot, slick with sweat, muscles relaxing on to the hard wooden bench. The air filled with steam, searing, hot enough to make your lungs ache as you take a deep breath. Another ladle of water is thrown on to the sauna stones, there’s a hiss and you hold your breath, the new steam too hot to let passed your lips.
Rivulets of water run down you body, sweat exiting your pores, cleansing, washing away the grime and dirt.
You can’t take any more, it’s too hot, the heat oppressive, the sweat rolling, splashing onto the bench beneath.
You rise, pushing your hot, soaked body from the wood, stumbling to the door and open it, falling out in the bright summer night, gasping, drawing the cool air inside, banishing the burning heat. The midnight sun makes you blink in it’s ferocity, the low ball of fire hanging, large and golden in the sky over the lake.
Steam rises from your body, the mosquitoes hovering above it not daring to come loser. You move now, down the wooden sleepers, through the trees to the water sparkling in the sun.
The first step takes your breath away, the water is freezing, not yet warmed from the summer sun as it will be in a months time. It laps around your ankles, the gentle waves causing it to splash frozen droplets up your calves. You take a deep breath and plunge on, going further, up to your knees now and then thighs, the skin beneath the water covered in a thousand little bumps.
As each new part of your body gets swallowed up by the water, the heat inside gets quenched a little more, the sweat rolls a little less. You can feel if not hear the hiss as each new area of hot skin gets quenched by the lake water until slowly you lower yourself in, naked, immersed, the sun dancing it’s golden dance in the reflection of the water covering your body.
You lie back staring upwards, your body floating, effortless, light, free, and close your eyes, letting the sun play across your closed lids. The outer edges of the skin tight and cold, tingling in the night air or below the frigid water, the inner edges warm and smooth from the heat of the sauna and the wine. You lie there balanced perfectly between hot and cold, night and day, summer and winter.
For this is the night of summer solstice, the pinnacle of the year.
I hope yours is as wonderful as mine.