It is a world of grey and white. If you stood outside, you would disappear.
The weather radio repeats.
Al puts another log in the wood stove and mutters, “You know, when he discovered Canada Jacques Cartier described what he saw as the land God gave to Cain. Cartier got it right!”
I say nothing waiting for the fire to build, impatient for its warmth to penetrate the skin, animate the soul. The longing for warmth never goes away. I watch the fire grow.
Soon, I am entranced by the flames my mind moving on ribbons of light, separating itself from here and now like the snake that tastes the air, basks in the sun…. sheds its skin. If Canada is the land God gave to Cain, I tell myself, then Charco must be the land that God gave Eve.
I remember our first morning walking naked amongst the dunes. The sensation was exquisite, like being caught somewhere between exhilaration and fear – fear because we had never done anything like this before. This was new and exciting territory, something that needed to be explored. And the sensuousness of it all! The kiss of sun on my skin, sea spray and rascal wind playing mischief with my hair, water whipped soft like white meringue then flung high against slippery rocks, the pearls of sweat running down between my breasts, the sudden snap of salty air.
Looking back across the dunes and stony plain it was easy to feel that we were the only beings on the planet. Not lonely mind you but rather self contained, happy and alive. Was this how one first felt in Eden? But how would it be when we encountered others, would we feel uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed or ashamed? The question did not linger long.
Rounding the ramshackle fishing huts a couple came towards us their skin gloriously bronzed by years in the sun, perhaps in their seventies, hale, proud and beaming.
“This is paradise,” the Norseman proclaimed spreading his arms wide in exultation. And in that moment all apprehension disappeared. There we were, each one as each one was, nothing more - or less, a natural acceptance. I am pretty sure he and his wife would agree that this is the land of Eve.
Having thought about it over the last few months I believe that the freedom and joy of naturism begins with the shedding of the skin of self-consciousness. There is, in the absence of any visible evidence of status, title or role, comfortable anonymity in living naked amongst others who are that way themselves, and beyond that openness and communication.
It was not long before our month in Charco took on an easy rhythm; the morning walk for warm fresh bread from the girl in the yellow cap, the slap of sun block on the skin, forays this way and that along the shore, cool dips in sea water pools and afternoons of wine soaked laughter with newly found friends. From our little patio we watched the ebb and flow of humanity - from the very young to the very old - that sauntered, jogged, cycled, held hands, or paused thoughtfully to look out to sea before passing by. At times we ventured beyond the comfortable confines of the town, our little Plus Car going round and round around the roundabouts as Al tried to find his way – we don’t have such things here, prairie roads are long and flat and straight. He’ll learn.
Another gust of wind drives more snow against the living room window pulling the mind back from its reveries. I sigh. Three more weeks. Three more weeks of snow and ice before we return to bask in the sun and shed our winter skin.