Sunday, January 22, 2006

Warm Sand and Peppermint Tea

Los Angeles, January 2035

The peppermint tea vapors rose from the cup, their warmth lightly touching her nose and then disappearing just as quickly. The cup warmed her hands; in fact the cup was so hot she wrapped her hands around it only briefly before having to release it again.

The day was gray outside, the January rain pelting against the windows with an intensity that stilled all the outdoor life. She wondered where the animals went during this weather. The ever present squirrels, blue jays and butterflies that frequented her backyard must have a place to go but since she would never see them on these days she was left to wonder about them.

These cold days would cause Laurie to drift away to the summer moments of her life spent with her late husband at the naturist resort. The best years had been in the 1970's. They were young then and full of life, marijuana, smiles and iced peppermint tea. Maybe it was the tea that brought the memories back on the cold days of winter. She smiled remembering her husband and his handsome figure striding down the hiking trail in his birthday suit, the warmth of the sun reflecting off his dark hair and his brilliant white smile. He had been the one resistant to visiting the resort at first, but with gentle persuasion she had taught him how to be free of his clothes.

She had been introduced to nudism through a sociology text she had been assigned to read at school. Her casual acquaintance from the class had mentioned the naturist resort near Bakersfield, saying she had grown up inside its wooden fences.

They had taken their first visit on a hot July day in 1972. They had only been married for two years at the time. She smiled down at her cup of tea, remembering how embarrassed, shy and terrified they had been when they entered the grounds. The very kind elderly owner of the resort had put them in his golf cart and driven down the sandy trails to their designated camp spot. He showed them the place to put their tent and with a pleasant wave goodbye started up the golf cart and disappeared back to the front gates and his office.

It was a Saturday and there were only a handful of people around, all of whom had cheerfully waved as they passed through the sandy trails and evergreen trees. She remembered her husband asking what they were supposed to do now. Being the braver and the instigator of the weekend, she took command, telling him to get down to his birthday suit and they would take a walk.

The memory of that first visit was etched in stone in a central area of her memory. The sand was warm on her bare feet. The warmth of the sun filtered through the trees and warmed her shoulders while the birds sang and insects created a harmonious buzz in the ground coverings at the edges of the trails. Occasionally a soft breeze would blow through her legs, the soft cool hands of the wind touching her in places a wind had never touched her. She had picked up sand in her toes and let it filter through the cracks of the toes, doing it over and over again in a childlike way. She would never forget the first time another nude couple had met them head on at a turn in the forest trail. She and her husband, without any experience felt immediately exposed, but the couple had simply smiled and waved like folks might do if you had walked out to your mailbox at home.

She had been won over on that first walk. It had taken her husband a few visits more, but he too began to cherish the weekend trips to Bakersfield.

Those were her wonderful moments of life, young and at peace with the world and its magic, calm and fearless, using her feet to play in the sand of the trail under a sprinkling of evergreen trees, cresting a bluff to stare off into the distant purple tinged mountains wearing not a thing but her skin and feeling completely safe and happy. She remembered it in vivid details.

Now those days were gone. She stared into her tea, then raised her head to watch the rain pelt the screens of the window. The winter wind picked at the edges of the screen. The lights above the breakfast room dimmed slightly under the force of the wind. She moved her tiny hands now wrinkled with age around the cup to warm them.

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