Saturday, August 20, 2005

You know those dreams where you're naked in public?...

Well, I was today, but it wasn't a dream. But don't get too scandalized. I was on a nude beach.

I have a friend visiting me from Rochester. He's a nudist, and he's been wanting to visit Hanlan's Point out on the Toronto Islands. So, today we caught the subway down to Union Station and walked to the ferry terminal, and caught the Hanlan's Point ferry. It was a quick passage; about five minutes. Then we wandered through the trees and grass to the sandy beach on the outer port side of the island, made our way to the clothing optional part of the beach, and got set up.

As we entered, we met a guy leaving, and I asked him how the water was. I meant the temp, but he mentioned that yesterday's storm had coated the shoreline with debris (it had; about a yard of it along the water's edge, mostly driftwood). He clarified that the water was cool, but warm enough to swim in.

Getting naked right out in the open was a lot easier than I expected. There were somewhere between one and two dozen people on the beach -- it was overcast and not great tanning weather -- and I didn't feel strange at all stripping off. I headed for the water nearly immediately. That was the real attraction for me. The water was a bit warmer than an unheated pool, but not much. Once it got up to, ah, pendulous areas, the going was a bit tougher. I always find it's gut level that's the real show-stopper. But I soldiered on out past the first sandbar, and very quickly grew accustomed to the water (my friend never did, turning back well before knee-deep). I splashed around out there for most of an hour. It was fantastic. It reminded me of my childhood summers in the August Atlantic swells. I launched into the air, yelling "Mombassa!!" like Hunter in Father of the Pride, getting in touch with his own instincts, and came down laughing. After half an hour or so I saw my friend waving to me, so I briefly came ashore. He wanted to express his concern about the sprinkling rain, which was only delighting me... not much for water, I guess, him. I went back out again for another little while, and finally waded ashore to rejoin him. I stretched out on my blanket and he and I talked for a while. After a bit, I got silly, and decided to build a sand castle. The sand didn't stick together so really, all I got was a sandpile. While I was trying to shape it, I was quoting Richard Dreyfuss from Close Encounters of the Third Kind: "Damn it, I know what this is!"

About that time, two women, still dressed, came by, greeting us. One was in her 30s and the other somewhat older with an English accent; perhaps mother (or mother-in-law) and daughter. It was a new, but not daunting, sensation to be sitting naked in the sand having a perfectly casual conversation with two summer-dressed women. In the course of it, they told us they were from Stoney Creek and had sailed across the lake (not the US; Stoney Creek's in Ontario, but on the Niagara Peninsula), and it was their first time at Hanlan's Point. I said, "Me too." We exchanged a few observations about all the debris that had washed up, then wished each other a good day, and they moved along.

Eventually we decided we should go, so I waded back out into the water to indulge myself for another 10 or 15 minutes. I came back, dried off, and we dressed and headed back to the ferry. It was just arriving as we got to the dock, which was great because it only sails every half hour. All in all, we were down there just a little under two hours. I had a great time. I'm so happy this kind of thing is normal, possible, and even no-big-deal in this town. I have to do this again.

7 comments:

James said...

I was on the islands at the same time as you -- may even have cycled past you. If you saw someone riding this thing, it was either myself (white helmet, long red hair), my father, or my half-sister.

We were out on Algonquin Island when the rain happened, but we had been on Hanlan Point half an hour previously.

L-girl said...

Good for you, LP. I'm not sure how I would do on a clothing-optional beach. I might have too many hang-ups about what we're taught is a "good body". But it's something I'd like to do one day. Like sky-diving.

pretty shaved ape said...

clearly you are going to go to hell for affronting god by exposing his creation in the proximity of women to whom you are not married. at least hell will have a better floorshow. cheers, glad you enjoyed the day.

Lone Primate said...

I was on the islands at the same time as you -- may even have cycled past you.

Doubt I would have, James; we were off the path, making our way to the beach via the grassy stretch. The thing I found most surprising was how tough the going in sand was; I'd forgotten all about that...


I'm not sure how I would do on a clothing-optional beach. I might have too many hang-ups about what we're taught is a "good body". But it's something I'd like to do one day.

I always worried about that myself, but you know what? When the moment came, and I really understood that what I was doing was completely appropriate in the context, I had no problems with it at all. Trust me, not everyone I saw down there was a model... and I'm certainly not. But I have every bit as much right to be natural and comfortable comporting myself in and around the water as anyone else. I feel blessed to be living in a city that allows us to celebrate a quiet personal freedom like this. Hope you will indulge!


clearly you are going to go to hell for affronting god by exposing his creation in the proximity of women to whom you are not married...

If I go to hell for affronting anyone, it'll be those Stoney Creek women with my thirty pounds of spare tire. :)

rea said...

Nice! I love to run into the water at full force until I fall down - that way I can't talk myself out of getting all the way in.

A nudie beach sounds like fun. I'd really have to do it in another province though, Alberta would be a tit-bit-nippily ;-)

Cheers!

Doughbot said...

Good job, LP! A friend of mine has been trying to get me to go out to Hanlan's, but I still can't convince myself. To me, nudity has and will likely forever be connected to sexuality. I feel I would be checking other people out while at the same time worrying about them doing the same to me. Then again, I won't know for sure how I (and my body) would react until I put myself into that situation. Which I might do, once I do a few more crunches ;)

Lone Primate said...

To me, nudity has and will likely forever be connected to sexuality.

Generally speaking, I always felt this way, but getting out a little in the altogether in a different context really does make a difference. I was surprised myself.

I feel I would be checking other people out while at the same time worrying about them doing the same to me.

I don't think there's anything wrong with looking at other people, so long as you don't stare or make them feel uncomfortable. After all, this is what we actually look like. This is the kind of animal we are. We've just decided to be ashamed of some of the things our bodies do and hide them, try to pretend we're above that kind of thing. Okay, so some things shouldn't be done right out in public. But simply to deny we are what we are 100% of the time seems not just silly, but kind of warped to me. There's no reason on Earth we should have to wear clothes to swim or just sit in the sun.

Then again, I won't know for sure how I (and my body) would react until I put myself into that situation. Which I might do, once I do a few more crunches ;)

Some people down there looked athletic, but not everybody did. I certainly don't. I probably never will. Why should I keep putting it off till I die? Why should you? I don't intend to. I'm probably going to visit again Saturday evening, and photograph the sunset from the beach. Summer's not going to last much longer and I'd like to have some memories to hold onto over the winter. :)