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'The Opposite of Cold' photographer Hautala to visit Kitchigami Libraries

Photographer Aaron Hautala, who collaborated with author Michael Nordskog on "The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition," will tour Kitchigami libraries and affiliate libraries during January and February. Hautala will present a slide show of stunning photographs from the book, and talk about the history, culture and practice of Finnish sauna in the north woods.

Aaron Hautala will visit Wadena City Library at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

As many in the north country can attest, one of life's great pleasures resides in the tradition of sauna -- sitting in 180-plus-degree heat and throwing cool water on oven-hot stones to create a blast of steam (called loyly), followed by a jump in the lake, or rolling in the snow. To the uninitiated, there is a strange, alluring mystique to the art of Finnish sauna. But to an ever-increasing number of people -- from their small urban saunas to backwoods and lakeside retreats -- the culture and practice of Finnish sauna are as much a part of north woods life as campfires and canoe trips.

Beginning with the origins of Finnish sauna and arrival of the practice in North America, and continuing all the way to contemporary design, "The Opposite of Cold" is an exquisite commemoration of the history, culture and practice of Finnish sauna in the north woods. Richly illuminated by Hautala's photographs of distinctive saunas from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Finland, "The Opposite of Cold" is for people who grew up with Wednesday and Saturday evening saunas and for those who dream of one day having their own sauna. Through this book we see why Finnish sauna tradition is vital and enduring, from the warmest summer evening to the coldest winter nights.

Hautala is the creative director and owner of RedHouseMedia in Brainerd. He was the founding art director at Lake Country Journal. His photographs have appeared widely throughout Minnesota.