One’s attitude has so much to do with dealing with being naked in cold weather. Having chosen and acclimated to the warm and hot desert where I live, my attitude provides horrible support. In the Summer, I walk in the blast from a furnace and step out to what I sense is akin to opening an oven door. Then, I sit in the heat. I look for shade, but all in all, I like that heat, naked. I love a sauna. I’m a Tucsonan.
So, we visited the Hot Springs and the daily forecast continued to be incorrect. The northeastern wind continued to rush down at force and penetrate every nook and cranny available to it. It got me to think about my naturist cohorts in the north. One in particular comes to mind. He lives up in the grassy chilling cold of Scotland. He hikes for hours, for many miles, nude. He loves it. He takes care to watch wind-chill charts, his skin changes color as it begins to frost, but he keeps moving.
I have been out for a half an hour on freezing snowy nights, but with no wind. I’ve loved that. In the calm of a forest without sound, but for the crunch of snow from feet, it is lovely and so it goes in the desert sand.
When there is any cold wind, my comfort changes. At the hot springs, my thinking was that I should be miserable during a weekend of windy cold. We spent most of our time either bundled in bed, huddled as two spoons, or we were in the sanctuary of the hot mineral waters. Our reactions to the chill were like a fright or flight, or to hibernate until it goes away. Bundled up, body tense, enduring instead of embracing, we don’t like being cold.
I just looked through a wind-chill chart and during the mornings and at night. The windchill was freezing and even below in that hard cold wind. The National Weather Service charts tell me that we were potentially in the dangerous territory at times. Surely that warrants claiming discomfort? My body may be able to tolerate it, but it doesn’t have to like it. And then, I think about those happy people called polar bears. In Tibet, monks in bliss are dancing to keep from freezing.
The sunshine made a difference, when I could get it.
As I’ve mentioned a few times before, we took up residence in the hot mineral water for hours. Sometimes we were thawing out, or melting as ice cubes.
We camped out where there was a nearby howling frigid air and had to walk to the water in it. For this, I bundled in a thick terry cloth robe with a sweat shirt under it. As long as I kept my torso warm the rest fell pretty much into line.
While getting ready to slip into the hot pond, I had to take the time to put clothing back on when I was being chilled, or take clothing off while I was chilled. The fewer articles of clothing the better, no buttons, no zips. Whip it on, whip it off.
So, what about my attitude? Does the internet not bring images of polar bear/bare people running head long into the frigid cold waves? Haven’t I seen a nude woman freely swimming under an ice sheet with beluga whales? It’s all in the head, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I just change my attitude and guru-yoga my way into staying warm? If not, am I not as tough as I need to be to take on all chilling obstacles short of hypothermia in a naked body?
If I wasn’t heading directly to the water, I gathered thermal underwear inside of heavy sweat pants. I bunched up thick socks to fit into the toe hold strap of my flip flops. I kept my hands against my body and a knit alpaca hat on. Often, I’d be in my down jacket with the hood up. It was cold! Where was the biology of belief? I tell myself that I’m a naturist, dang it! I should handle cold naked, shouldn’t I?
I guess I missed an opportunity to experiment. I just looked upon it as misery and torture; I succumbed to a knee jerk reaction. We bundled up, de-bundled and immediately went for the stinging waters. I could feel the strong wind pushing me sometimes, like I could lean on it. Other times, there was a windbreak in the forested parts and we were able to lie down nude and tan, after spending so much time warming in a particularly hot pool.
I could have braved a determined nude walk out into the blast of arctic envelopment, just to get a glimpse of what a naked Scotsman, or a kilt clad body lives with. I could have made the attempt to go about as I usually do, naked. I could have gotten insight into the blessing and the amazing abilities of my skin and bodily adaptability. My attitude made some difference. Perhaps a body moving more, or a more curious me, would have been warmer? Perhaps, I could have had a more relaxing, or invigorating four days in this Eden.
There was reprieve getting out of the hot, as I toweled off, but only for moments. There is something that tells me that I am cold, that is evident. However, my Scottish friend is overcoming something chilly and for longer periods. He may have some more body fat, he may move more strenuously. Maybe he is acclimatized in some way?
Then, there is “The Iceman” Wim Hof! Wow, what’s with that?
It can be a challenging plunge to jump into a hot spring. The contrast is certainly different from acclimating to warmth by spending the Spring outdoors and gradually warming up like a lobster does in a pot. Yep, you’ll find me being comfortable in 102F heat in the desert sun after a few months of Spring. Maybe the opposite is jumping into cold water, or just getting used to the chill as more time passes in the Fall.
We love to spend our time wandering, experiencing our bodies in nature, the air across it, the sensuality of the moment, the wonder of life and physical body, but then there are these potential extremes. For me, it is apparent that cold extremes will be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t ever want to live there.
We had a few days of chill. On that Sunday, we discovered a new spot and had a proper day of free range naturist wanderings in wonderment. Next week, I’ll take you there.
I lived in New England for ten years. Each year, as fall and winter set in, the lower temperatures felt extremely cold. By the time spring came around, those same temperatures (about 40F) were t-shirt weather. It’s in part a matter of adjustment, giving your body a chance to get used to the ambient temperatures. After a week of 20F weather, 40F feels warm!