Marja Vuorio 2012: Satu meni saunaan
Illustrated by Marjo Nygård
Satu walks to sauna, where the sauna elf is cleaning. Satu asks him, if she can help. The elf is happy to accept. He is kind and shy, so you can seldom see him.
The towels will be changed next week. The Sauna elf says good buy and disappears through a small door under the bench. Satu asks if she can follow. The elf takes her to the laundry room, where Satu and her mother have been doing laundry. A neighbor arrives, but she cannot find the matches. The elf is perplexed: he has borrowed the matches and forgot to bring them back. This has never happened before! Satu tries to comfort him, every one forgets sometimes. Satu asks would it be easier if the sauna building had electricity. The old sauna elf is very upset, all sauna elves are suspicious about electricity.
The sauna elf tells Satu about the other sauna elves that are part of the Sauna Elf Guild. There are barrel sauna elves, smoke sauna elves, electric sauna elves and more unusual rock sauna elf and dugout sauna elf. All of them have days off, when the household does not bathe.
Satu asks more about the smoke sauna. The sauna elf tells her that there is no smoke, when it is ready to be bathed in. You heat it up and since there is no chimney the smoke fills the room. When the fire is died out, the smoke is let out. He suggest that they go meet a smoke sauna elf. The smoke sauna elf tells them that they cannot come in yet, there is the stone cleaning steam though going on. Then you absolutely not can be in the sauna.
The other elves gather on the porch. The electric sauna elves are leaving for summer houses and need advice to for heating up wood burning stoves and the smoke sauna stoves. Many smoke sauna’s have burned to the grown, when the sauna elves have not been watching them. Suddenly they see people coming to bathe and they all leave. Satu is asked to join the neighbors to the sauna.
“Satu meni saunaan”, the title of the book is also a children’s rhyme. It is also a song that is used to teach children play musical instrument.
There is a huge debate about the right temperature of a sauna. I think it depends. The electric saunas might not have as big of a variation as the wood stove saunas. I have experienced the two extremes: my sister’s sauna is very comfortable at 100 degrees Celsius, but I cannot stand my mother’s sauna, if it is over 60 degrees Celsius. My mother refers to my sister’s sauna as the cow breath sauna. She likes to bathe in very hot and dry sauna, whereas my sister and I prefer humid and gentler air. The right temperature also depends on, who has heated the sauna and what kind of wood he/she has used. Heating a sauna can be tricky: sometimes the weather is so high that the fire practically swallows the wood and sometimes it is so low that the wood don’t seem to fire up at all. Not to mention if you happen to take the wood out of a pile that has not dried yet, burning fresh wood does not work. It takes some experience and knowledge of the particular stove to get the best possible bathing experience.
Any way, sauna is sacred to us Finns and we are proud that the English word is sauna and not bastu (sauna in Swedish). More information from the Finnish Sauna Association.