Orient Land Trust

Orient Land Trust is one of the most storied naturist locations in the United States. This Colorado territory is the perfect conjunction of The Naturist Society + The Nature Conservancy (and a half dozen other organizations as well). The huge acreage includes numerous hiking trails, a ranch, a mine, and so much more. Their comprehensive programming lists a bat cave tour, astronomy hikes, and many other options. The best known part of the park is the area called Valley View Hot Springs, so named for the view of San Luis Valley from these natural thermal baths.

My family and I were enjoying a week of vacation travel through Colorado, and we planned to visit Orient Land Trust. (It’s necessary to call ahead and reserve your visit, even for a day visit like ours, since the number of visitors per day is limited.) From Pueblo, it’s about a three-hour drive to Valley View Hot Springs. Most of the journey takes you along curvy mountain roads with gorgeous views of the Arkansas River headwaters, until you reach the San Luis Valley for the last long stretch, and make the turn onto the prairie land fronting the property. The dirt entrance road is visible in the photo above, in the view from the iconic “infinity-edge” pond that is the lowest of the three Top Ponds cascading one into the other.

After registering at the office and paying the entrance fee, we drove into the campsite area and got naked. First we walked around a bit, to see the common area and pool, and then we enjoyed a picnic lunch at a table with a valley view. In just the few hours that we were there last Thursday, we sampled the main Soaking Pond, the Top Ponds, and the Waterfall Pond, and hiked past the Meadow Pond as well. The hike to the Top Ponds is a bit of a challenge, especially if you are still getting used to the Rocky Mountain altitude, but it is well worth it!

Along the drive into the property, almost at the gate, we were thrilled when a pronghorn antelope leaped across the road a little ways ahead. On the way out, we saw two antelope.

Pronghorn antelope

The staff was friendly, the visitors too (and represented a great range of age and ethnic diversity), and the natural experience was overall quite dramatic as the heat of the afternoon dissipated into storm clouds. We left just ahead of the downpour.

Storm approach

Orient Land Trust is a beautiful, sacred place, with a host of programming and much more acreage that we simply didn’t have time to experience. Definitely for the next visit it would be worth planning far ahead in order to stay in one of the cabins or tent sites on the property, and have more time to enjoy and socialize and learn.

Upcoming Review on Clothesfree Riviera Maya

My two partners and I recently traveled along the Riviera Maya, staying in and visiting clothing-optional locales. I wrote a review that I was going to publish here, but I decided to see if N, quarterly magazine of The Naturist Society, would be interested in publishing it… and they are! Hopefully it will appear in the next issue, due out in August.

In the meanwhile, I’m posting here links to the places we stayed or visited, and a couple photos not submitted to the magazine. Photo above: At the clothing-optional beach called El Ultimo Maya.

A walkway at Azulik
Rooftop pool at Intima suite
Palapa on Hidden Beach
Mahekal (not clothing-optional)
A hazy morning at Mahekal
It was a terrific trip! I hope you can access the upcoming review in N if you would like more details.

Training Pants-less

This past weekend (June 9-11, 2017) there were several World Naked Bike Rides held in cities in various countries. I’ve never participated in a WNBR, although I hope to have the chance someday. But meanwhile, in the city where I live, there was a 3-day biking event over the weekend, involving several different races, lots of competitors from out-of-town… and all of it was completely clothed. And by completely clothed, I mean the bikers were wearing that fluorescent, synthetic bikewear that’s so ubiquitous these days.

If you’re into biking, or if you’ve ever been to a bike shop, you know that bike apparel is a BIG DEAL. As in, you can’t just wear regular clothes on your bike. Oh, no! You have to wear water-wicking, skin-squeezing, synthetic stuff that looks about as eco-friendly as, well, gasoline. Which is one of the reasons I like the WNBR. I suspect many of the participants are regular bikers who buy and wear that stuff, but, at least on WNBR day, they can feel the air rushing over them as they roll along – a wonderful sensation and also: air = best water-wicker ever.

This is also why I love naked yoga. The yoga clothing industry thrives on the idea that you can’t just do yoga in gym shorts and a t-shirt (although of course many people do). For companies like LuluLemon, the widespread acceptance of naked yoga would shut them down. Or at least radically alter their business plan.

The same applies for all kinds of activities as well, including such basics as running and swimming. You can spend a lot of time and money on apparel, OR, you can just, like, do it naked already. So much better for you, for your wallet, for the environment. So much healthier!

But so, how do you get there? How do you move from clothing-dependency to clothing independence? Well, training isn’t only about the gym.

The textile industry markets TRAINING pants for toddlers learning bladder control.
Toddlers are effectively trained to wear pants.

The textile industry markets TRAINING bras for adolescent girls anxious about their appearance.
Young women are effectively trained to wear bras.

The textile industry markets TRAINING shoes and exercise clothing of all kinds, to all sectors.
Everyone is effectively trained to wear clothes to exercise.

What we need is not training pants, but training pants-less!

For some people, it takes a bit-by-bit approach. Walking up the stairs, or down the hall, or even across the room barefoot, then shirtless, then in just your underwear, then naked… etc. – this is an act that for many nudists and naturists seems basic, but can detonate an extraordinary revolution for those unaccustomed to daily, ’round-the-house nudity, for those not yet accustomed to cleaning, cooking, sleeping and other regular activities in the nude.

Those first few steps beyond the door of your home, or beyond the cabin, tent, or even the clothing-optional resort hotel room, who knows – these are the precious prologue to a pilgrimage of naturism, the path toward body acceptance and awareness of human embodiment in nature.

And just as it can be a gradual process – this untraining from pants, or training pantsless – it can also take time to train yourself to be nonchalantly nude around others doing the same. There is a natural range of abilities in this training process, as in any other. Some people take to the clothesfree life like ducks to water. Others, for whatever reasons (and there are many), need more time, more practice training.

But like any training worth the effort, the results are fantastic. When you can accept your unadorned body for what it is, and as one among many such bodies, and as a part of the natural environment, then you have truly gained in health and wisdom, with spillover benefits in spirituality, environmental consciousness, even economics.

images from Tumblr
Off with the pants!

Henna – Our Bodies, Our Impermanence

This post is an attempt to write about some of the most important people in my life, and about some of the main events that have happened in my life since I last posted. To no one’s surprise, these important people are often naturists, and these main events are often nude or clothing-optional!

A lot of folks know that henna is a natural dye that can be used to make non-permanent tattoos, and also as a hair colorant. Henna marking is a practice original to the greater Indian Ocean region, now widely adapted all over the world. Often henna tattoos are used to mark special occasions such as weddings. I’ll come back to henna in a bit.

I have a group of dear friends who are artists as well as fellow naturists/nude-friendly folk. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them lately. For purposes of this blog, I’ll use initials: L, C, M, H and A. My partner L is an arts educator, Reiki master, former gallery owner, and painter whose nudes will be featured at an annual exhibition next month at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, where the members of this group have been very active. C is a digital painter as well as accomplished musician, performer, and arts activist, who shared a vendor table with me last fall at the arts festival at Oaklake Trails Naturist Park. M, a creative writer, organized an underwater nude photography event at a friend’s pool last summer for which we all modeled. The owner of the pool, H, is an arts and music supporter and, along with the rest of us and many others, a member of the private Facebook naturist group that M manages.

All of these folks are dear to me, additionally, for helping me as a writer. L has read and given me feedback on both of my novels. C reviewed Aglow for me online. M gave me feedback for the first chapters of Aglow when it was still a work in progress.

And then there’s A, an accomplished painter, activist, and organizer of the monthly and annual exhibitions at the Equality Center gallery mentioned above. Until recently, A, C, and M lived together in a home where they fashioned a nude-friendly garden space in their backyard, complete with hot tub, outdoor shower, and a privacy fence specially constructed and lighted by C.

M, C, L, my partner B and I were getting ready to participate in the nude 5K at Oaklake Trails, which was held just a short while ago on Saturday, May 13. On the Thursday prior – May 11 – we met at the home of M, A  and C so that A could paint henna tattoos on those of us who were going to walk the race. It was M’s idea – a clever way to mark us as runners in the same group. Since henna is a natural sunblock, one of the interesting things about henna tattoos is that, if exposed to the sun, they will leave a “negative” of their design on the skin once they fade.

B’s eagle, C’s dragon, M’s Green Man (after henna removal), L’s hamsa, my eclipse
We had a great time at the 5K, and our tattoos were indeed fun conversation starters.

And then, on the morning of Monday, May 15, just two nights after the 5K, A… didn’t wake up. She had passed away in her sleep at age 61, no sickness or suffering evident.

Suddenly, among all the emotional shocks, logistical necessities, visits and hugs and tears, our henna tattoos gained immense emotional value. They were the last works of art that A had made, three days before her passing. The strokes from her brush in her hand were still marked upon us.

Henna tattoos, like our bodies, are impermanent. I like to think that these final designs by A on the bodies of people she loved, were her reminders to us to seize the day, catch the sun, face the wind and live lives of unfettered creative expression, for our own good and everyone else’s, before our too brief time on earth comes to an end.

There will be a memorial service for A at the Equality Center next month. Our A will always live on in our hearts and minds.

Woman Walking Naked Through the House

My translation of a poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987, Brazil), one of his country’s most beloved poets.

Woman walking naked through the house,
you cover me in an enormous peace.
It’s not an urgent, provocative nudity.
It’s a way of walking dressed with nudity,
the innocence of a sister with her glass of water.

Your body is not even perceived
by the rhythm that carries it.
Curves travel by in a state of purity,
bestowing this name on life: chastity.

Body hair that used to fascinate, does not faze.
Breasts, buttocks (tacit armistice)
rest from battle.

I rest, too.

A few thoughts: I like Drummond’s paradoxical concept of a nudity that covers (envolve, in the second line, can mean covers, wraps, or envelops). The concept comes through as well in the fourth line, “dressed with nudity.” This reconciliation between opposing states of dress and undress foreshadows and accentuates the concluding sense of a truce (armistice) in battle. This poem, sometimes grouped with Drummond’s erotic poetry, is not in fact erotic. It is precisely about the stripping of eroticism from nudity, which allows nudity to dress the home with peace, innocence, purity, and chastity. Mere, de-eroticized nudity induces in the speaker / observer a rest, a natural ease. The poem is a welcome, clear-eyed description of home nudity from a major Brazilian poet.

Graphic with photo: unknown source. (There are a few errors in the graphic’s text.)
Text of the original poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade here.

What is Naturist Fiction?

Reading and writing are becoming lost arts. More specifically, long-form reading and writing are falling away in favor of short-form. Here’s an analogy to put it in perspective: fewer and fewer of us have the desire or stamina to run cross-country (novels), preferring instead the 50-yard dash (tweet or text exchange), or at most the 200-meter race (short story, article or column). Depressing statistics on reading in the United States spell it all out. (42% of college students will never read another book after they graduate? Wow.)

The general and unavoidable truth is that reading takes dedication and precious time, and long-form reading takes even more time, even when the book is not nearly as long as those late nineteenth-century doorstops. And in comparison to the works of visual artists or live performers, any naturist aspect in writing is not immediately evident, nor presented visually in any way other than in your own imagination. I’ve written more about this here.

Source.

Within the minority of people who still read long-form, only some of them read fiction. (I’ve met many avid readers who refuse to read fiction.) Then, within the fiction-reading public, you’ve got your romance readers, your mystery mavens, your science fiction folk, etc. Very, very, very few readers will pick up “naturist fiction,” which is why some of us who write what could be called naturist fiction prefer to also publicize it as science fiction, mystery, or whatever genre is appropriate.

So what is naturist fiction? Let me offer a definition:

naturist fiction: novels, novellas, or short stories, of most any genre, in which an integral aspect of the plot is the adaptation of one or more characters to social nudism in a context supportive of naturism.

This definition is wide open regarding not only genre, but also setting, time period, character types, tone, etc. The definition mentions social nudism, but then clarifies “in a context supportive of naturism,” because some fiction explores social nudism in erotic or degrading contexts not related to naturism. Would it be possible to have naturist fiction in which social nudism is not depicted? Maybe, but it would be harder to link it convincingly to naturism (see definition here), since one of its basic tenets is social nudism.

A great example of naturist fiction is P. Z. Walker’s latest published novel, Mirror Earth Revisited, the sequel to his Mirror Earth.

Walker does a stellar job expanding the premise (and terrain) of the portal-accessed Mirror Earth in which everyone lives clothes-free. Introduced to a large and diverse cast, we get to catch up on memorable characters from the first book, like Jane, Denise, and Walter, as they are thrust into action to thwart the plans of a greedy corporate villain. We meet new characters on both earths (and beyond) who are forced to examine their values and make tough decisions, often with little time. Our reading is spurred along by romance, industrial espionage, and the odd creatures and organic technology that characterize the Mirror Earth. The alternating-chapter format of the first book continues here, which adds to the suspense and shows off Walker’s terrific plotting. The ending, in particular, is very well done – satisfying, suspenseful, and appropriate.

The novel can and should be classified as science fiction. But it is also, most certainly, naturist fiction. There are a couple of new characters whose adaptation to social nudism in a context supportive of naturism is featured, and recurring characters continue to remark on their adaptation to naturism. These successful and life-affirming nude adaptations contrast with, and prevail against, the unhealthy, prurient attitude toward nudity that is displayed by one of the other new characters.

Just before the end of 2016, I got to read drafts of naturist fiction works in progress from both P. Z. Walker and Robert Longpré. Let me just say that it was a privilege to read these drafts, and I am very excited about these works that will be available sometime soon, no doubt! There are also–and this is very important–other writers of naturist fiction out there whose work (or new work) I simply have not read YET: writers including T. H. PineWallace Greensage, and Ted Bun, among others. And there are of course many writers who produce fine non-fiction work about naturism – essential reading, to be sure. These writers include bloggers, travel reviewers, poets, playwrights, essayists, and academic writers published by Nude and Naturalother naturist magazines, or academic journals and presses–very, very important work.

I mentioned above that reading takes commitment and time. So does writing long-form fiction – in fact, creating art of any kind usually takes quite a lot of time and dedication, from years of practice on down to the draft or drafts before a particular finished product. In the Internet age, people like for art to be free. But given the amount of time and skill that artists put into their work, with real costs involved, it makes sense to value their work through payment. Writers of naturist fiction are not unlike any other kinds of artists in this respect.

Like most artists, I try to provide a mix of free content online with paid content. For example, last year I not only published a novel, Aglow, available as paperback or Kindle at a fairly low price, but I also published a mystery novella serialized in eight parts, Bugs & Bares, that you can read right here for free.

So I am very thankful for your support. Shout out to @Liveclothesfree and @hontouniheart for their promotions of my work as well as other naturist writers! Clothesfreelife.com is even sponsoring a Clothes Free Life 2017 Reading Challenge – see here for more details. The continued success of this genre of fiction brings hope for those of us who write it! 

Naked in the Landscape

Motivated by Earl D. at clothesfreelife.com, who generously has named Aglow the current featured title for the #clothesfreereaders book club, I’d like to share some more information about how I came to write the novel. The text below is an abbreviated version of the “Afterword” you can find at the end of the book, with Wikipedia hyperlinks for general interest. *There are no spoilers* 🙂

Few places hold my fascination as strongly as Mexico and Brazil. I’ve experienced their inexhaustibly rich cultures and landscapes, and the exceptional warmth and passion of their peoples. I decided to set a novel in both countries with a plot about lost documents from the time of the European ‘conquest.’ As I became more immersed in background research for Aglow, I realized I wanted to incorporate several myths, like El Dorado and Tamoanchan, the Fountain of Youth and the Iara, alongside historical figures like Palafox and Anchieta. But the crux of it, I realized, would involve plausible conjecture about indigenous forms of knowledge that the Spaniards and Portuguese either would not have understood, or would have condemned outright as barbarities. Such knowledge base, moreover, needed to include, or even depend on, the particular range of possibilities open to the human body when nude.
In all of the Americas before European contact, a writing system had only been invented once that we know of, in Mesoamerica. Since the Europeans had already developed relatively widespread writing practices centuries earlier, and even adopted the printing press during the time of colonization of the Americas, the written word held, in their esteem, a special and even sacred place in the construction and safekeeping of knowledge. But for many preliterate cultures, knowledge was mostly stored in bodies. People transmitted memories of important facts or practices through a repertoire of bodily productions such as dance, cooking and hunting procedures, initiation ceremonies, rhythmic chanting, the rhymes and epithets of storytelling and song, etc. The Europeans almost uniformly viewed these practices as primitive, or ignorant, or even demonic—we now know, of course, that had the Europeans been a bit more curious and less quick to condemn, there is much more native knowledge that could have been retained about plants, agriculture, the landscape, etc.—knowledge that had been accumulated and passed on over centuries.
An Awá family, Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Sebastião Salgado.
Naturism” is a modern term coined in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Europe and used worldwide today. It is defined by the INF (International Naturist Federation) as “a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.” All human societies have contexts for communal nudity. My interest in this novel is to complicate the European stereotype of the naked “savage” through the characters of Amana and Sun Prince, iconoclasts who lived their lives against the grain of the Aztec, Inca, and Muisca textile social structures. The two of them not only embody the voices of dissent in their respective adopted cultures, but also they do so through what can be seen as a kind of proto-naturism originating in their own, more nude-friendly, home cultures – the Huastec of the Mexican Gulf Coast (Sun Prince) and the Tupi-speaking peoples of the central Amazon (Amana). 

Kindle and Paperback versions

Naked Calaveras

The word calaveras has many meanings, especially this time of year in Mexico. One meaning is a kind of short satirical poem depicting the untimely demise of a well-known figure, poking fun – with a macabre humor – at that figure’s eccentricities or excesses. The poems can trace their roots back to medieval Europe, but they became very popular in late 19th-century Mexican newspapers and are still around today. They are linked to the calaveras drawings first made famous by José Guadalupe Posadas – here’s his iconic depiction of La Catrina (Death):

Source

These calaveras below have to with clothing and nudity, because… well, of course they would on this blog, right? 

He sported patriotism to allure us,
but his suit was made in Honduras.
His shoes were from China,
not North Carolina,
and his tie was French silk of the purest.

The multitude, frenzied, attacked him.
They tore off his clothes and then sacked him.
Undressed on the ground,
he croaked with a frown,
“I’m naked! My lies – I retract them!”

“It’s too late,” the crowd yelled with a blast.
“Your lies are as bald as your ass!
We see right through you!”
Donald knew it was true.
Denuded, he gave his last gasp.

Every time her position changed,
her pantsuit strained.

Every time her stance switched,

her pantsuit itched.

Every time her shift appeased,

her pantsuit squeezed.

The final time her emails trended,

her pantsuit, unmended,

burst its seams, unpeeling,

and flung her up, nude, reeling

to crash through the glass ceiling.

Lacerated over all her skin

and falling back to earth again,

Hillary hit the ground

and broke her crown –

her clothes came tumbling after.

Goodreads Giveaway!

I’m happy to announce your chance to win a free copy of Aglow
I’ll send ten copies to ten people randomly selected by Goodreads – just click below! 
You can register from now through September 30.
Due to postal costs, the offer is valid for addresses in the United States and Canada only.
Click below to enter!
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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Aglow by Will Forest

Aglow

by Will Forest

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/201634

Early concept art for cover of Aglow by Bernard Perroud

Glowing Cover Art

I’m very grateful to my friend Bernard Perroud, who surprised me by sending me his original painting for the cover of Aglow!

Bernard is a very talented multi-media artist. I’ve always enjoyed his aesthetic and his willingness to show his work in progress. I collaborated with him for the cover of my first novel as well–Co-ed Naked Philosophy–and I featured some of his work in a post on this blog. It is such a pleasure when an outstanding artist helps bring the story to life!

So, what’s happening in the painting…? Without any spoilers, I can reproduce here the passage from Aglow that corresponds to the scene in the cover art. The speaker in this passage is an indigenous woman from the Amazon, and she is giving testimony to a Jesuit priest in the newly founded city of São Paulo in 1554…

In fact, the first time my mother saw my father, they were underwater. He had approached the lake and had seen that she was gathering reeds from the lake bottom. Somehow he was able to slip into the water undetected. He waited for her to see him, then smiled, bubbling, and held out his open hands under the water and started kicking his legs like a frog. She understood that he was friendly, not like that other man that tried to surprise her.
But then she saw behind my father what he had not: a caiman, closing in on him, its jaws already open. It wasn’t the first time. She knew this caiman, and she knew what to do. She pushed my father to the side, and at the same time she kicked the animal just under its chin.
I mean to say that she knew this animal because she had already had encounters with it. They lived in the same lake. It is only natural. And she had learned how to get the animal to leave her alone. So, as I was saying, she kicked the caiman, and he spun back from the force of her foot. My father instantly saw what had happened, and just as my mother swam in to kick it again, my father grabbed one of the reeds that my mother had left floating in the water. He swam on top of the beast and straddled its back with his legs. The caiman started whirling around in the water but my father threw his chest over the animal’s eyes, which confused it, and then looped the reed around its snout, and quickly tied it tight. The caiman could not open its mouth. It swung its head back and forth, trying to get loose, as my mother and father swam quickly to shore.
Well, Your Grace, I don’t think I know what you mean about miracles. My mother said it was because the caiman was surprised by my father in his lake, and was defending his territory. My mother had made her peace with the animal long before, when she first came to the lake. This is how it is when the land and water are shared the right way. By the time the caiman broke its jaws free of the reed, my parents had already swum to shore and moved away from the waters. And my mother found that my father had already placed on the strand a large pile of the reeds that he collected for her, before she had even seen him. She was very impressed by his tricks.
It was not many days afterward that my mother dove again to the lake bottom, but this time to collect the clay to make the muiraquitã amulet for my father. When she told me the story, she said she had the intention to make the muiraquitã in the form of a frog, because my father had reminded her of a large frog when they met underwater. But in the end she chose the form of a caiman, since she and my father had worked together to defend themselves but also to share the lake with the caiman. One day she gave the muiraquitã to him, in the lake, near the waterfall that is one of the voices of the lake.
Then my father wanted to make another voice, to make holes in the amulet, to blow air through it with his mouth. But he left it as it was, since it had been a gift from my mother, to stay near his own voice when he wore it around his neck. Instead, he began to fashion other clay figures with holes, and to blow through them for sound, like what you call, I think, music. Sometimes he made them in the shape of frogs and caimans, but also pirarucu fish, or piranhas, or turtles, and sometimes people. This is something that he taught to the others who lived in their group, people like Yari and Zahua. Zahua became very skilled at shaping the clay into these musical amulets, although he did not know how to make the same from gold. His sister Yari learned how to blow their music and put together their songs. She made many songs, for fishing, for hunting, for dancing, for healing. And when it was time for my mother to bring me into the world, Yari and Zahua helped my mother and father and others at the lake to craft the circle and its song – the circle you have taken from me. You do not know its voice, its song. They combined what they knew about bringing people into their homes of this world, and bringing music into the world, and led the whole community to bring me into my home of this world.

Here is a close-up from Bernard’s painting of the caiman-shaped muiraquitã, a traditional Amazonian amulet made of clay from the bottom of a river or lake:

Want to know more? Read more here!