Caribbean musings #8 The naked truth: is life better without clothes?
Remember when you were a child and summer was about turning on the sprinkler and running around the garden with nothing on? Remember the way the soggy grass squeaked under your feet and how wonderful it felt dashing from the warmth of the sun into the shade of the trees? Remember how happy and free you felt? Because it was summer and the sky was blue and it felt better to be naked than have clothes on your body.
Well that's how my children feel most days. Because where we live, in the Caribbean, it's always summer. In fact, right now, in November - when in the UK the leaves have turned brown and fallen from the trees and there's a chill in the air - the sun blazes hot every day and the humidity is so high at night that the children's bedrooms are around 30 degrees when they climb into bed. Does that make me lucky? Maybe.
There's something about living in this heat that does feel easy. Yes, there are the weeks (usually between July and October) when the heat is a constant irritation, an agitator, and the days and nights seem to merge into a hot, sticky, never-ending dream that addles your brain and the only time you 'wake up' is when you turn on the air conditioning.
That's why I'm quite happy for the children to spend as much of their home-time as possible gloriously, and nakedly carefree. They rarely wear swimsuits in the pool. They often eat their meals bare bottomed. In fact, the first thing my six-year-old son does when he walks in from school, is remove his entire school uniform. Piece by piece. Leaving a trail that starts with socks and more often than not, ends with underpants. Annoying, I know. But I don't blame him. There have been plenty of times when I've been tempted to do the same. And maybe I should. Perhaps if I just keep a loose dress by the front door (and the shutters closed)...
Because although this relaxed way of dressing (or not) does evoke a feeling of liberty, I wonder how long it will last. When once we entered into the transformative British season of summer once a year (if we were lucky) and revelled in languid sun-filled days and a slower pace, now we experience nothing else. Have we lost something along the way?
I often find myself wanting to wear jeans again (hence this post) and think fondly of shopping for bobble hats and winter coats to the soundtrack of 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas'. I have a distant and fond memory of warming my feet - encased in pure wool socks - by the fire.
But the truth is that not having to continually go shopping for children's clothes has been one of the most transformative things that's happened to me in a long time. Whereas, before, I used to obsess over which skinny jeans to pair with which stripey sweater, now when Oscar gets a hole in another pair of his shorts I think - so what? His t-shirt will cover it.
Not having to trapse around H&M on a Saturday is such a relief. These days I spend my spare moments reading, often in a hammock, or playing with the children in the pool. Life is better this way. For now. The Christmas jumpers and wooly socks can wait...
What do you think? If you could choose, would you and your children prefer a life without seasons (and clothes)?