Let me be clear--we're not nudists.
But we're also not opposed to getting dressed off the clothesline out back when it's convenient. When you have a home on 41 acres that's landlocked, that no one can see from the road, you tend to relax your rules a bit and take risks that would, in the city or suburbs, better acquaint you with your local law enforcement.
We moved, Patrick and I, in April of '99, from our relatively safe and fully-clothed suburb to what many still call "the middle of nowhere", and we haven't looked much in the rear view mirror to see what we're missing. We're not missing anything. But we did have to grow up, and out of, and way past our comfort zones to a place where we would come to be less startled and more delighted, even soothed, by a setting that never knew a chain link fence or a sidewalk.
The "Naked Acres" moniker came to us as the result of an acquaintance who never heeded our numerous requests to call before he came to visit. We're not reclusive, or involved in any manner of illegal what-you'd-expect-to-find-in-the-middle-of-nowhere activities. We just appreciate the gentle courtesy of which our kind is capable.
On that fateful morning, I heard the crunch of tires on the driveway gravel, and recognized the truck. It was summer, warm and breezy, and I was exercising my God-given homeowner's right to privacy, enjoying the view of the meadow from our front deck. I declined my husband's offer of the bathrobe that was draped over the chair nearby, and watched as he reluctantly walked the distance from the deck to the idling truck, which had come to a stop just at the bottom of the driveway's slope. The view of the front deck from this angle is clear, and close enough to draw conclusions.
Patrick approached the driver's side window, and after a handful of seconds, our acquaintance's truck made the slow and awkward retreat down the quarter-mile driveway. In reverse. Over the rickety bridge that spanned the creek, and up another incline until he was hidden from view by the trees that lined the driveway. It's not easy to do without veering into the poison ivy-covered buckeye saplings or the neighbor's cornfield. That was his last visit, unannounced or otherwise. We did see him occasionally in social settings after that, but not even the most gracious of exchanged pleasantries could erase the indelible understanding we'd all come to that breezy summer day.
I wondered what he and his therapist talked about at their next session.
Privacy is everyone's choice and privilege, and it somehow coexists with the human desire to interact, build communities, and be known. I dance back and forth between all of these on a steady, regular basis. I love where we live, where nudity is our standard for privacy (whether we exercise it or not), and I also enjoy hearing that crunch of gravel on the driveway from the cars of anticipated and cherished friends or family. Most days, I stand on our front deck facing the meadow, to the west, and keep my heart humble in gratefulness for even getting to be here, to have this view, to hear the warblers and the red-wing blackbirds whose call sounds like a drop of water gently leaving a faucet. I want others to experience those moments, to be here when the coyotes yip their way through the trees on either side of the creek, or to see Orion punching its star-yellow holes in the black winter sky after midnight.
When Henry Drummond, in the film "Inherit the Wind", tells the jury that we gave up our privacy when we welcomed the telephone, he both frames and forecasts the future of trade-offs that any technological advancement offers. There's a wincing tension we humans live with continuously--choosing between convenience and whatever else opposes it in a given moment: privacy, the satisfaction of taking the long sweaty way to completing a project, stronger muscles, the meaningfulness of the "getting there" vs. speed. Living here at "Naked Acres" presents Patrick and me with that choice daily. Some of our decisions are based on economics; most of them insist we dialogue with our core values intimately, and honestly. We pray to be aware of our options at least as often as they are offered to us, and choose with intention.
So, this blog is and will be a gathering of reflections on that journey, with our lovely slice of 41-acre paradise as both backdrop and writing fodder. I believe that we--you and I--can find that sweet place between a relationship's familiarity ("make yourself at home!"), and a genteel respect for someone's choice to self-reveal in his/her own time.
Welcome to Naked Acres.