On this gorgeous spring day, there was no way I was staying indoors. My backyard garden was calling to me, and after days of rain recently, I was happy to answer that call. As it happened, there were two unique garden related holidays today. I particpated in both, for the first time!
The first celebration I was mindful of was Herb Day. Established 12 years ago, the intention of this holiday is to raise awareness for using herbs, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. To celebrate was easy…plant herbs, or cook with them, or create a craft using these pungent plants.
I already have a well established apothecary, or herbal, garden. However, visiting garden centers early this morning, I picked up two varieties of basil, another rosemary plant, and parsley. I tucked those into the ground this afternoon.
I was still thinking about the second holiday, wavering back and forth on whether I would participate or not. As I mulled it over, I dragged more of Maple Tree’s gifts, hollowed out stumps and solid limb sections, to bare spots in the garden. I have enjoyed repurposing these chunks of maple, creating cute natural planters and stands for potted flowers and herbs.
I broke for lunch, sitting on the brickio with a bowl of chopped salad, surveying my garden. I love this backyard paradise. It is ever changing, growing, filling in. The garden brings me so much joy and fills me with peace and contentment.
As I finished my salad I returned to thinking about the second holiday. May 6 is also World Naked Gardening Day. For real! Established in 2005, this event is intended to inspire gardeners to plant, weed and tend to their gardens, in the buff. The focus is on having fun while developing a positive self image.
Says one of the founders, “It’s not about exposing your body to other people, it’s about body acceptance and being one with nature on your own. We actually do these events in secluded areas.”
I am not in a secluded area. I live in the middle of town, with neighbors on either side of me. Although I have been intrigued by Naked Gardening Day for several years, it seemed impossible for me to participate. As I considered options, my eyes were drawn to my corner meditation area. Enclosed on two sides with a wooden privacy fence, the other two sections are made of metal fencing, which are currently covered in clematis blossoms. There is a narrow opening leading into the small secluded area.
As soon as I decided to observe World Naked Gardening Day, my mind began to chatter, coming up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t: Naked outside? What will people think? What if someone comes into the backyard unexpectedly? Why do you even want to try this?
I shrugged and laughed…and kept filling containers with flowering annuals. But often I turned to look speculatively at the meditation area. Finally I walked into it. With the flowering clematis vines covering the fencing, it was hidden from view entirely from the neighbors on the south. And with a sheet hanging over the entrance, the area would be completely private from the neighbors to the north. And…I had a flat of white impatiens ready to plant in metal containers in that area. I made up my mind. I was going to participate in Naked Gardening Day!
And participate I did, saving those containers until last to plant. I showered to rinse off the day’s grime, lit candles throughout the garden, and brewed myself a cup of thyme tea. Wrapped in my yellow and blue sarong, I hung a white sheet over the little garden area entrance…and then removed the wrap. Greg graciously snapped a pic from outside the meditation garden and then left me to enjoy my final gardening tasks and my herbal tea.
There are many reasons why I decided to join in on this unusual celebration. I love nature and being natural. I like to challenge myself to try new experiences that move me beyond my comfort zone. I don’t want be governed by what other people think. I felt inspired by my day in the garden to savor a time of vulnerability and openness and solitude. Mostly though, in the past 10 months, as I have become healthier and healthier, I have become very attuned to my body. I appreciate how strong and fit and vibrant my body is becoming and I feel very at ease with who I am and my outward appearance. I am okay being in my skin.
To keep the experience authentic, I planted the impatiens in the metal containers. I gardened in the nude. And when that task was completed, I sat in a garden chair and sipped my hot tea. A breeze stirred around me and rippled my sheet covering the entrance! I had to weigh down the sheet’s edge with a metal table. But I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the cool of the day as the sun set, in my paradise, my Eden, naked and unashamed.
I think shame has a lot to do with people being uncomfortable in their own skins. Shame surrounding their bodies accompanied by the fear of not looking good enough or lacking in some way. Naked Gardening Day is a non sexual experience. It is a personal time of being in nature while being au naturel. Naked and unashamed. Relaxed and at peace. Quietly joyful and completely accepting.
Wrapped again in my sarong, I exited the meditation area, jubilant about my long happy day in the garden. The sun had set. The moon was high overhead. Candlelight twinkled throughout the garden. My heart was full.
I am not waiting until the first Saturday in May next year, to enjoy this freedom enhancing experience again.