Thursday, September 20

Nude Gardening?

nude gardening
I saw a news story about a Florida nude gardener, and it got me to wondering. Apparently, gardening or just standing around in the nude is legal on one's own property, at least in the (I assume) Central Florida town. But is it legal in all of Florida, including Duval? It sounds like a nudist can literally hang out in his own yard, as long as there's nothing lewd happening. I guess some people, like my wife, believe being naked in your yard is perverted. I want to have an open mind, but this is one where I'm glad it's not my neighbor.

I remember one time almost twenty years ago when a neighbor of mine came outside in his boxers to get something from his car. My aunt saw it and was in shock, even though he was a very handsome man. I didn’t really care myself. But it wasn’t to garden, and he wasn’t totally naked, but that was Wisconsin, not Florida. Another time, the trophy wife of a resident at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center was gardening in her bikini. I enjoyed the show, as did the three-man crew putting up a fence next door. She bikini-gardened a few more times over the years, but she always wore a very tasteful swim outfit, only untying the top when she rested on her stomach to do some tanning.

The problem with nude or even bikini gardening is that, like nude beaches, you have to take the good with the bad, and it can be very, very bad. In fact, when I was in Barcelona just after college, I was initially very interested in the optional clothing on the beach. Until I realized most of the people who let it all hang out were over 50. Once my friend and I recognized no one was trying to be sexy and there was way more to see than we cared to look at, it was just another day at the beach. That was Spain, however. Europeans are different when it comes to nudity. When I was in France in 7th grade, I noticed that about 10% of TV ads featured naked women. And the middle school I attended had boys and girls get dressed in adjoining locker rooms with an open door between them--one guy stood in the doorway staring and commenting, while the rest were unmoved by the debauchery. He’s probably the high-ranking government official of the bunch.

But we have American values here, and that (right or wrong) says that being nude is sexual. Being nude in public is generally illegal. And since we have those values, it is more likely that a person who gardens in the nude gets some kind of sexual satisfaction from the stares and glares of his neighbors. I’m not saying this guy does, but it’s just more likely. Besides, he also gets a lot of attention, even if it’s not for sexual gratification. The neighbors apparently snap photos, the news shows up, the police show up, and so on. I’m sure the FBI has stats on this, but I assume that folks who parade around naked in their lawns are generally not going to be stalkers, serial killers, terrorists, or paid assassins. They’re too busy calling way too much attention to themselves to be dangerous.

You might think from reading so far that I’m all for nude gardening. I’m not. I think that we have a certain standard of decorum that should be upheld on our own property if others can clearly see us. I’m OK with folks drinking a beer in the driveway (I do that) or smoking medicinal marijuana in the garage (my neighbor does that), but I don’t want to look into the neighbor’s yard to see assault rifles being cleaned or naked grandpas with their handguns. Hot neighbor ladies in bikinis are OK, by the way. Basically, once someone suggests you don’t bear all, it probably means you should keep the goods under cover.

I guess this is one of those times I might be glad to have an HOA. Even if it’s lawful for my neighbor to garden in his birthday suit, I am sure we could ask to have an amendment added that makes it against HOA rules for an unsightly dwelling, especially if there's too much grass on the field. But I assume anyone who would prance around his yard naked would not buy a house with an HOA. My cousin, who lives on a farm, could go check on the cows completely nude if he wanted to. No one but the cows would care. And he also has enough space for a huge garden. Honestly, the Florida nude gardener should be living in the middle of a few wooded acres. Slap a trailer on the property and have at it. He could name his homestead Morning Woods or some other classy name.

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