The weather has been 10 and 15 degrees hotter than usual, near record breaking. More ‘new normal?” It’s a dry mid to high nineties, with a couple of afternoons over 100. This leaves us with plummeting temperatures in the seventies and eighties at night. This adds to many peoples Covid 19 stir-crazy misery, those “too hot to get outside” days.
We have been coping by exploiting earlier mornings when it is cool, a summertime strategy. Our best weapon is simply to remain naked. Our bodies have the natural ability to adjust to changing weather and the extremes of dry heat. Today, we put weeks of dirty laundry on the line, two shirts and a pair of short pants, for me. DF had her work clothing and we had soiled a few towels.
Isolation has kept us from socializing, from dancing, shopping, from all of the activities that require being dressed. Even Zoom requires no pants. I have been out for groceries, to roam the trails and camp, to sweat and look at property. Only one activity has required covering with more than a hat, which protects from a red nose. Oh yea, some form of shoes, flip flops, or toe shoes. Yesterday, I was stunned to realize that I had been dressed maybe six, or eight hours in the whole of the last month. A legal kilt wrap, was handy for a few moments here and there. Another new normal, for however long it lasts. Clothing has become abnormal, unusual, almost alien. I walk around forgetting that I am barefoot all over in the warm weather and comfortable evenings.
Being immersed in natural garb is a great release.
Into the Night:
Today, we have been rearranging DF’s back porch and patio area for hours.
We are sitting outside in the back yard having a nice dinner. A friend, a handyman who had been working on the roof next door to take advantage of the late afternoon cool, pops his head over the fence. Surprised by two nudes, (he knows us only as clothed) he voices his surprise, “Oh, I see that I should have knocked first.”
“Oh hi there!” We just quietly smile, nearly a giggle. His reaction is comical. We can find something to cover with. DF thinks about the pillow case that she had been sitting on, but we just walk into the house for a sundress and a kilt. He waits “until it is safe.” “Safe” what a term? Safe from embarrassment that shouldn’t exist, to make someone else feel “normal.”
We sit around the table pleasantly, with our social distance. It is nice to have company, after so long.
After he leaves for home, a local improv comedy company does a performance online with Zoom. On the small laptop screen, we sit in the backyard, watching another friend act out bizarre characters in an “up” attitude. There is something about watching a TV screen outside on a warm summers night. It is like the ambiance of a drive-in movie. Memories of visiting grandparents and watching in jammies on their screened in porch pop in to my mind.
The show over, a walk seems nearly compelling on such a nice warm evening. It is Saturday night, but it sounds like a quiet Sunday night, when everyone is resting and readying for the coming days of jobs and work.
We already have our coverings from the earlier visiting lying out. All we need are five-finger walking shoes to stroll off into the neighborhood.
One thing leads to another:
The streets are calm, as we head down the slope to the river walk. A block down, we hear loud music. Voices can be heard sitting outside their homes.
We innocently inspect the outside decor of the eclectic neighborhood, but something in the back of my mind says that we are being blatant.
There is a small patio sized yard out front with furniture arranged. An old lego style house from the fifties with those windows that open out with a crank is dated. Nosey, we observe a picture window with someone else’s favored decor inside.
Very soon, we are walking through the drainage route that leads down to the walkway of the dry Rillito river.
“Dang, forgot my flashlight.”
“Yea, I was just thinking that.”
A flashlight, torch, is good in case there is a snake lying in the shadows. The three quarter moon is illuminating the rest nicely. We’ll just take the risk and stay aware.
This is the still undeveloped, barely paved part of the river walk and not much chance of running into anyone. On the other side, there is a park and a strip of asphalt with a paint strip down the middle. My kilt comes off, is folded into a tight package and placed into the tight secure space of my armpit. I feel that I am back to “normal.” The air is perfect, pleasant, slightly cooler next to the river.
“Which way shall we go?”
“West, so we don’t bump into a road sooner.”
It is an alert stroll. This side doesn’t have the improvements of the other. The ground is rough and slightly uneven, unlike the smooth strip of asphalt with the median line down the middle on the other side. There are few shadows.
The trail along the concrete riverbank narrows with the various walls on the backside of businesses, parking lots, and homes. About the time that a lone streetlight brightens the trail, another light is seen up ahead. It bounces along in extremes, then begins to twirl in a circle. It must be a toy on a string. Could it be a party?
As we draw closer, I re-wrap. The light hasn’t stopped. It bounces down the steep slope and into the dry riverbed. Someone is having great fun, completely immersed in the activity.
The shadowy figure continues to dance and play on the riverbed sand, as we pass.
There is once again an opportunity for unwrapping. DF doesn’t want to deal with it. A sundress is more complicated. She has to slip it over her head. This one is a little tight.
A wall appears, leaving only a narrow strip to the edge of the steep bank. I step into the consistent shadow of the wall. I think of a trapped rattlesnake, but figure that it most likely would give me a sharp warning. I think of a hole, a trip, a tumble, sliding down the steep sharp edged concrete slope. I become just more careful and aware, ready. I begin to realize that this may never be a pedestrian/bicycle walkway for the river.
I look behind and DF is cautiously hugging the four foot wall, one hand on top of it. A slip here would extend, slipping to the bottom and a significant rash. I am reminded that I expected a casual evening river walk.
Eventually, the wall drops its height, and then again, until it is a couple of feet high. There is a wider area on the other side where there is the continued back of an apartment complex, a kind of alley. We both are grateful to climb over through the weeds on the other side, to a safer path. Now, things are moving on more smoothly, as we pass the patio gardens of townhouses.
Ahead, in the darkness, there appears to be a wall obstruction. In a couple of moments, I’m surprised that we can’t continue along the river here.
To our right, we can see a path to the other side through the tall desert broom, the plants with roots in Hell that survive the flashfloods each year during monsoon. We won’t attempt the steep rough concrete slope, crossing in the bed of the river and then climbing out.
To our left, there is an alley-like way, between the obstructing wall and some townhouses. It is decorated with large round river rocks, but passable. There appears to be a drive, or parking beyond.
I begin to step my way through the false creek bed, when an extremely bright light flashes on.
It is a motion detector. In the sudden daylight, I drop my kilt into my hands and begin to wrap it on. As I arrange the Velcro, another flashes from the other side. Then quickly, another and another light blinds us. It is like a runway filled with paparazzi. I’m covered, my heart misses a beat. I feel like I am trespassing, but we soon find the parking lot.
It is a conveyance for vehicles and I know that it has to lead us to the main street. I know where I am headed. A march through the complex and we are out on the bike path of a familiar quiet tree lined street.
We stroll in the peace of the night, once again. This road leads down to the Racket Club. It is closed and traffic will be unusually nil. I strip and then, in a few moments headlights are seen down the road. Just as quickly, I’m covered and then it passes. I can freely walk in the perfect night air once again.
It is strange walking through the empty parking for the Racket club. We are members here. It is usually teeming with people in the evenings. We look into the lighted windows at the empty rooms of weight machines. The Jacuzzi room still has its light on. The effect of the lockdown feels like a ghost town.
Getting past the Racket Club, we are again in familiar territory. It is a place where we have walked nude before, under the light of a full moon. We know that we must watch for bicycles and pedestrians here, but none come on such a nice night. It is perhaps 10pm. Perhaps people just haven’t gotten their heads around the instant summer weather that has snapped on during the last few days.
A New Playground:
We sit leaning on the wall where the pedestrian bridge crosses the river. We are deciding whether or not to stay on this side and explore. The Racket Club has been sold, the fate unknown. There are twenty some acres of prime urban real-estate here and we fear that the family oriented icon of an institution may disappear for a quick buck. We haven’t seen those acres. They pass by, as we walk along. It is again safe to unwrap.
We come across an asphalt paved path leading toward the shadows of large eucalyptus trees away from the river. It may be the way to Tucson Boulevard and a good way home. We’ll take it.
This black shadow on the ground empties out onto a street. There are signs to the left declaring private property and signs that tell us that we have been on something called a River Loop. On the other side, there is desert. Mesquite trees and creosote bushes silhouette the area with the city light’s sky in the background.
A break in a rail fence brings us to more signage. It is some kind of park. There are wide trails, perhaps for equestrian use.
It is easy to see in the dark with the moonlight directly overhead. We wander. A trail can’t continue very far. However, our short walk plans have now covered a couple of miles.
Behind the thickness of mesquite branches, a car’s lights cross our path in the darkness of trees ahead. We then come to an open area and what appears to be grass. DF says that there are lights on top of that car now sitting a short distance away across the grass field. She tells me that she figures it to be a cop, or a security patrol.
Suddenly, the blue and red lights fly off at startling speed across our vision. We are stunned at first, confused. Then it settles in that they are attached to a running dog, which has bolted for joy. We leave them to their play and turn up another path and away.
Coming up out of the riverbed, there is a rise here. In the dark, the vegetation has blocked all of the city lights. We distinctly feel like we are in the middle of the desert, not an urban area.
We come across a labyrinth. It is large and compelling. The bright moon is above. All but a few stars are drowned out by its light and the city’s. It is peaceful here. I abandon my kilt on a rock at the entrance and raise my hands to the air. I await the presence of spirit to come to my senses for a journey to the center.
DF has dropped her short dress to her waist somewhere along the way. I begin. She holds back to take a minute or two, to gather her spiritual solitude. Then she enters the maze herself.
Around and through, my focus is on the path between the bigger than a bread loaf rocks bordering me on each side, creating this labyrinth. It is in the moment, one step at a time, just here for the trip of it. My thoughts roll in and out, distracting me, then dissipate as I return to the task at hand, or simply awareness.
As we wander, occasionally, we pass each other. I notice that DF has rolled her dress, up and down to get more air. The next time, we pass, it is gone. Her dark tanned features are softened in the moonlight; her figure in stride is quite beautiful to me. In this urban venue, her nude form and meditative smile exude a confidence and being and freedom.
I come to a large rock of different colors in the center and lean down to touch it. I look again to the moon. I raise my hands and just feel. I feel the air; I feel the chi in my hands, and across my body. I find myself brushing out my hair, whisking away whatever is stagnant around me. I’m bathing away an elusive invisible form that just needs to go, like dropping skin and reviving, reborn to a new day refreshed.
DF arrives. We embrace.
We raise our hands to the moon together. As if on cue, a pack of howling coyotes respond….
…I leave her to her own moment of solitude and continue the journey back through the labyrinth.
As we are finishing, a car pulls up behind the mesquite trees on the road. It’s not very far away. The lights drop off and we can hear the faint sound of car doors in the dim light. DF moves out of her meditation to grab our coverings. She hands me my kilt. I carry it along. She drops her dress over her head. I see a flashlight by the gate.
I’m about finished, as I fit the kilt on and give my thanks. DF arrives and we embrace once again. A couple had climbed out of the car and passed us, turning down a different path.
We exit the park passing the car. It has all been proven benign.
I’m stubbornly naked again, as we continue down the street through the residential neighborhood. At this point, I’m pushing to see how far I can go nude. It is less of a pleasant walk and has become a fun rebellious game.
We come to a corner with street signs. We now know where we are, and how to get back home.
It is a peaceful upscale neighborhood with elaborate entrances and lighting. A wide street is paved with an interesting mix of asphalt from different periods and a wide dirt shoulder.
After a block or two, I hear the sound of a distant car. I cautiously pull out my kilt. The car turns behind us and I begin to fumble with the waist and Velcro. The lights are coming up on us fast and I don’t know how illuminated my bare butt is becoming. I dart over to put DF between me and the car, until my wrapping is complete.
The car passes. I hear the bass sound of music inside the dark windows.
Something feels odd with the kilt.
In a moment, there is a flashlight just to the right on the other side of the street. A couple are in the dark of a tree, walking their dog.
After I watch them pass us, I come to someone’s lighted entry way and look down. The mystery is solved. The kilt is on inside out. I discover an extra pocket, meant to be under the kilt’s belt at the waist. I disrobe and then correct my look.
Around the corner, the street is busier. Car’s bright lights blind us, burning our eyeballs. One comes up behind us. We’re on a bike path on the shoulder, but it feels uncomfortable to trust those approaching from behind. We cross the street to escape and continue on another residential street in a quiet neighborhood.
We pass familiar buildings that we know from daylight. They are closed and dark and very different.
The kilt remains on, as we pass the pounding loud music of that party. Loud voices are nearly shouting at each other to make themselves be heard over the electronic sounds.
When our driveway comes, I’m thoroughly done with the kilt. I going back to “new normal.”
I have the new glamping bell tent set up in the back yard as I outfit it. Its amber glow from the lamp inside looks fun, as it awaits us. We decide to sleep outside in the evening’s lovely air.
We had a covid date last light, enhanced by the mission to take photos to illustrate this post about this stroll that we took a couple of weeks ago. We had no camera at that time.
We have ordered sushi to take out using the phone and then stop by to pick it up.
The park has a pair of benches at its labyrinth. We have decided to have a sundown picnic there.
When we arrive, there is a young woman walking the labyrinth. Her back is straight, chin tucked, face looking down in contemplation.
We spread out the first sushi that we have had in a couple of months. It is heavenly with the miso soup, which is warm in a tall Styrofoam container.
The view is pleasant. The girl leaves with her dog. Dusk peacefully comes.
The light of dusk is much more obscure, not dark, but dim enough, as to mess with details. Sights are obscure, especially at a distance.
We are sitting, so the lack of light helps to hide how we are dressed. People don’t wear so much in Tucson during the times of heat. Odd outfits are often seen here in the summer.
There is a mesquite tree keeping us from being spotted on a couple of sides and no paths behind us. I am in nothing but a kilt. All that I have to do is undo it and let it flop to the sides. I then feel “back to normal.” DF has a baggy dress and drops it down. It becomes a very pleasant nude picnic.
A couple of walkers and then a colorful “paint” horse walk by. The horse’s white patches are the only detail to see. Features have no details. I doubt that they even notice us at all. We’re across the labyrinth, in the dim and away from the path and we’re quiet.
After feasting, we sit quietly for a few more minutes. We need to catch awareness and listen for the normal sounds. People bring something new into the usual mix with their contrasting noise. The pause brings us to get a feel for our surroundings. We will sense change.
DF breaks the moment to tell me that she would like to get the pictures done during the lull. This sounds good to me. We get up, as I adjust the camera and she pulls her dress off, leaving it behind on the bench.
I instruct her where to walk and which way to face.
I have trouble seeing her in the dim image that I see looking through the camera. I set the direction and framing as best that I can in the view finder and then keeping the camera still, I pull my face away to see her. We know that the flash will be a problem. It will rain daylight unto darkness in an open place. We don’t want anyone to noticed and get curious. I listen and look around after each take. We had minimized the odds first and now keep vigilance. We make it all happen as quick as can be. She seems more relaxed than me.
We check the results on the screen, as we sit on the bench. The consensus is “Good enough.”
After that, she poses me.
We sit quietly, once more on the bench. While we are here, we still want to accomplish a pleasant evening’s walk through the labyrinth.
I just continue nude. DF decides to leave her dress rumpled at her waist like a thick belt, easy to pull up, if need be. This is a spiritual meditation and we don’t want to have to break it too quickly to grab something to wear. I just figure that I would see a flashlight, before I’d be seen. If no light gave them away, the moon is small like a bowl, so darkness and assumption would hide me.
We each have our business, our question/intention to work on.
As I walk, I am concerned that there could be too much distraction to my meditation, as I listen. I can’t hear silence for the crunch of my own feet in the sandy loam. Every so often, I pass into the light from the distant street post. It is more illuminated and it initially bothers me. I look down and can see that the lighting still isn’t discernibly luminescent on my body. I’ll be okay.
We meet in the middle, embrace, raise our arms to the air and add more prayer.
It is a nice night to be nude, comfortable air, openness, and peaceful, as I stroll back to the car.
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