Pole to Pole
Day 23: Helsinki
'It's meditative, contemplative, reflective . . . not a place for angst or anxiety or argument . . . that's why you have settled
so many disputes in the sauna in Finland - political ones, economic ones . . . whatever. Because who wants to argue when they are naked, you know . . . '
'What are those twigs for?' I ask, meditatively.
'They're birch twigs. They must be picked about midsummer when the leaves are soft . . . '
Lasse picks up the bundle and proceeds to whack himself about the face and upper body, before offering it to me.
I begin to apply them gently. Neil looks unimpressed.
'No, you've got to get the circulation going . . . '
He grabs the twigs and lays into me. Lasse looks on with approval.
'Try it on the face, very nice on the face . . . you get a nice sort of scent from it . . . '
The flagellation does produce a pleasantly aromatic tingling sensation and I feel it's only polite to offer to scourge someone else. Lasse accepts and I go to work.
'Say when . . . '
This all seems very energetic and I'm still waiting for the contemplative and reflective bit when Neil suggests we go and jump in the lake.
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