Nude, we are closer to the natural world. This is what we tell ourselves, even when all we are doing nude is sitting and typing a blog post onto the Internet inside an air-conditioned room. And, yes, it’s absolutely true – it’s as close as we can get to being just like the pet cat or dog, next to us in the room, naked and unashamed. But still “closer to the natural world” is when we can be nude outdoors in the elements, a state of affairs that has led to everything from the creation of naturist parks to events such as #WorldNakedGardeningDay.
No wonder that so many naturist or nudist parks are named after Eden, Arcadia, Elysium, Paradise, and other avatars of the locus amoenus – the ideal natural spot celebrated in literature and the visual arts since classical antiquity. While World Naked Gardening Day (the first Saturday in May, at least in the Northern Hemisphere) continues to increase in participation year by year – and includes everything from naked lawnmowing to naked watering the plants inside your seventh-story apartment – the ideal naked gardening day is every single day.
Being in touch – literally – with the natural world in our natural state opens us up to our relationship with the environment in ways we may have forgotten, or may have never thought to imagine. Through naturist fiction, we can explore some of those more speculative options. In Robert’s pilgrimage series of novels, René Beauchemin’s adaptation to nudity along the Camino allows him to come into greater knowledge of his true self in the company of legendary archetypes. In Paul’s series set on Mirror Earth, certain scientists – electrobotanists, perhaps? – have developed all sorts of batteries, terminals and other gadgets through a greater understanding of plants. And in my novel Aglow, an international group of ad hoc nudists rediscovers an ancient practice for creating an outdoor soundscape that can facilitate childbirth.
We can cultivate the garden of the mind outdoors, too! Sun on skin, sun on the pages. The true naturist gardener, after all, has not just a green thumb but a green everything else as well, including a green mind. May we all be green-minded naked tenders of gardens and books.