On moving in, we discovered our landlord was a travelling naturist, who ran a colony for fellow “clothing optional” enthusiasts on the adjoining property.
Here are five things we discovered in our years living next door to nudists:
Everyone is interested in looking at the naked body (well, almost)
When some people learned that we lived next to a nudist colony, they were keen to come for a visit. Arriving guests greeted us with hushed tones: “Where are the nudies? Can we see them?” One particular friend, not previously known for visiting, couldn’t wait to make the 90-minute trip to our new abode. After quickly making his way to the foliage fence for a gawk at the camp below, he was devastated to discover our neighbours were all out.
Our growing grandsons would ride their bikes down the driveway and serendipitously crash into the bushes, which offered the ultimate vantage point for nudie viewing. Sometimes you knew their perving attempts had been successful, from the staged whispers of “Caw, check that out’, or “Ew, that’s gross”. Occasionally, a loud “Go away” from below signalled the spies had been caught, and they would retreat with tails between legs.
Girlish giggles informed us that our daughters had spotted some flesh during their outdoor games, and even grandma couldn’t resist a discreet peek now and then.
My husband was the only exception. Always considerate, he refused to go on to the site if a lady was around, even when this meant going without water. We only had a small tank, and, if rain had been scarce, we needed to go down to the colony to pump water from the dam. Once, my beloved had to contact the estate agent to organise switching on the pump, because he was too respectful to encroach on a lone naturist lady’s privacy.
It is possible to operate farm machinery with no clothes on
Our landlord maintained the sloping bush property, which involved utilising an array of equipment to keep grass and weeds under control. It must be safe to do so naked, because seeing him driving the tractor in the raw was quite common. Once, our youngest daughter spotted him at a distance on the ride-on and proclaimed, “Look, mum, he’s wearing yellow undies”. I guess “flesh-coloured” wasn’t yet in her youthful vocabulary.
Nudists are normal people, who look just like you and me when you see them at the supermarket
Ever been momentarily disconcerted when you’ve seen a familiar face out of context? That feeling is multiplied when you see someone down the street who you’re used to seeing naked. It turns out that nudists are normal people. They eat, sleep, shop and visit the dentist just like we do.
They even have happy hour. Some afternoons, when numerous naturists were gathered at the site, we would hear the clanging of saucepans being banged together to signal it was starting. Directors’ chairs would converge in a circle as they shared a drink and a yarn while the sun set behind them. Occasionally, drinks would go on into the evening, but they never made too much noise. Always good neighbours, they respected our privacy a lot better than we did theirs.
You don’t need a fantastic physique to be comfortable with your clothes off
While we didn’t deliberately study our neighbours, it was possible to inadvertently cop an eyeful of more than you bargained for. Our oldest daughter was anxious about hanging out the washing because the line overlooked their property. My husband would hang some large sheets as a screen to protect her young eyes from an early anatomy lesson. Nevertheless, sometimes we couldn’t help seeing some nakedness as we mowed the lawn or tended the vegie patch.
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and apparently you don’t need one that’s honed by personal trainers and nutritionists to be comfortable in your own skin. The naturists taught me that it’s good to love your body, even if it doesn’t fit the svelte and sexy or muscled masculine magazine stereotypes.
Going naturist is highly eco-friendly; think of the savings in power and water!
With the rising cost of power and water, the naturist lifestyle makes economic sense. As I washed, hung, ironed and folded clothes, I sometimes envied them the freedom from these mundane domestic duties. The naturists taught me the value of simple living, as they lived out of caravans with few possessions and little need for fancy whitegoods. They seemed content with their lifestyle, going away and returning on a whim.
Clothes are an obsession for some, but these people had shaken off the constraints of following fashion fads. Despite lumps and bumps, they seemed to revel in the liberation that comes from being at peace with your body. That’s a lesson I’m still working on.