Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Closest I'll Ever Come to Heaven...

The difference between a regular hotel and a bed and breakfast is not so much the breakfast itself, but the fact of having to eat it with the other guests the morning after you’ve had loud, disruptive sex and kept them all from a good night’s sleep. A hotel’s relative anonymity means you might get some wall-knocks in response to your bed-rattling, curtain-swinging, sheet-crumpling session, but you’ll never have to face them the next day and ask them to please pass the jam.

Awkward French toast aside, we did pass a lovely night in an old converted barn, now living a torrid second life as a bed and breakfast cum yoga studio cum photo gallery. Snow was falling on cedars, and on pines, and firs, and on anything else that had the audacity to be outside. Soon, that would include us. Because obviously -24 degree weather would inspire anyone to shed their clothes to wander around outside in frostbite country, and not only enjoy it, but pay for the privilege too. Some have called it folly, others call in torture, but the business card says simply Le Nordik – spa en nature\outdoor spa.

The principle of Le Nordik is easy to grasp: hot, cold, rest, repeat. The hot part is happily obliged: either you sit in a hot tub nestled among the rocks and trees while snow collects on your eyelashes, or you lie about in the Finnish sauna (“Dehydrates strips of caribou while you relax!”) or you breathe in the goodliness of the steam bath (“Tastes like menthol!”) And then, once you’re good and sweaty, in order to achieve the ultimate relaxation, close the pores, and fully detoxify, comes the cold: literally, a hole is chopped through the ice on the lake and you jump in. Or, for the more romantic-minded, you may luxuriate under the iciest waterfall that will ever constrict your balls and pinch your nipples. Either way, it’s a deep freeze that chills to the bone. And if the shock stops your heart for more than the expected 30-45 seconds, the staff have hooks on long poles, perfect for fishing frozen corpses out of environments more suitable for polar bears. Just kidding of course. Polar bears aren’t that crazy.

For those of us who survive the jaw-clenching cold and are too incapacitated to make a screaming escape to the car comes a restful reward. You can flop yourself down on a lounge chair, or warm yourself by the fire in the gazebo, or stretch out in a room full of mats that plays host to the most wonderful thing I’ve ever witnessed – adult nap time. And then you do the whole thing over again, And again, for as long as you can stand the mind-blowing bliss.

God it was good. It was so good. It was fat-free chocolate-covered pretzels while you shop for pricetag-free Manolos on the first day of a three day weekend good. Andrew and I stewed in the hot tub for so long that our fingertips passed pruney and broke new territory in raisin land. We scuttled between stations in just our bathing suits and our flip flops, neither of which, in case you’re dense, do much to cut the cold. We had robes and towels, but they grew icicles after their first use and became slushy articles of discomfort that we were better off without.

Logically, I knew that it was -24, but I never really registered it. Hot tubs have amazing thawing capacities, and making out in hot tubs is truly divine. I was too blissed out to even mind my wardrobe malfunction. Predictably, I fell out of my impractical bathing suit. But since it was just the one boob, I doubt if it even counts.

After several hours, we fortified ourselves with wine and cheese so that we could withstand the travails of a massage.

It was the kind of massage that elicited the kinds of appreciative noises that could easily be misinterpreted by anyone listening in. This is supposing that my groans were now drowned out by the ubiquitous canned sound of fake birds fake chirping in the background – constantly. The funny thing is, Le Nordik is tucked away in a forested setting and has no need for nature fakery. Perhaps if the real birds are taking a day off from this freeze-your-nuts-off weather, we could just, you know, muddle through somehow without them. I doubt I’d be sitting in the hot tub all tense and nervous thinking God damn, if only there was some imitation bird to be had!

At any rate, I have now seen nirvana, and I’m hooked. By the end of the day I nearly did a face plant into my injera, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for paradise.

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