Thursday, March 15, 2007

Skinny-Dipping Memories from Oregon

The naked truth
By Lance Pugh – Ashland Daily Tidings Columnist
March 15, 2007

Ashland, Oregon

I dropped by Bluebird Park the other afternoon and sat on a bench, listening to the bubbling and murmuring of Ashland Creek as it descended from the watershed by way of Reeder Reservoir and the confinement of Hosler Dam.

My mind raced back to the mid '70s and a special place that evoked all the beauty of a well-choreographed Maxfield Parrish fantasy. It was a deep and clear swimming hole downstream from Cook and Green and Copper. The spot disappeared due to the demands of the Applegate Dam and now is only accessible by way of memory and imagination.

We would go out to the remote and secluded swimming hole a couple of times a month during the heat of the summer. The sun baked and the cool waters refreshed the two van loads of us; two men and the balance consisting of the most beautiful "hippie" women from Ashland. We brought a picnic basket full of goodies from Lithia Grocery and made camp around the deep, refreshing, pocket in the stream.

As part of this summer submergence rite, we all shed our loose-fitting clothes in favor of a raw display of skin, which was seen draped over toweled rocks and shimmering in the depths of the deep blue diving hole.

We had done this many times and encountered no voyeurs or other interlopers. Those few who happened upon us usually waved hello, then rambled down the road in search of their own private paradise. It seemed a matter of common courtesy that sightseers do just that, then leave.

One afternoon, while splashing in the water with a flotilla of mermaids, I caught a flash of light out of the corner of my eye. I drew focus and spotted two members of the law enforcement community looking our way with binoculars. Never one to be shy about confronting things errant, I bounded up the embankment to greet our onlookers. I was in such a rush that I overlooked putting on my clothes, preferring to pop up au natural, which in hindsight, was unadvised.

They say that clothes make the man. While I take reasonable objection to this assertion, there is palpable proof that the two, pistol-packing officers with their palms resting on their pistol grips trump a naked, long-haired hippie who is attempting to skillfully encourage their departure. Every time I eased in upon the timid topic of privacy I was reminded, by a few words or a finger tapping on a holster, that they had guns and I was, well, completely naked and defenseless.

They continued to focus on the playfully bare mermaids, laughing and elbowing each other as they zoomed in, all the while answering my attempts at conversations with either a "yup" or abject silence. This was back in a time when "hippies" were considered by the establishment to be a blight on the doily of an otherwise perfectly acceptable Sunday afternoon social. We were considered amusement and subject to the same ground rules as animals in a zoo. Neither of them acknowledged my presence to a meaningful degree and only looked in my direction after putting on their mirror-finished sunglasses. After another 15 minutes they had saturated their visual memory banks and, reluctantly, left their perch in a roar of horsepower and dust.

I scrambled my dusty buns back down to the swimming hole, while the assembled awaited my version of events. Before I could utter a single word my swimmingly beautiful wife, Annette, asked what took me so long to get the binocular boys to mosey on down the road.

"They did not think that I was of their caliber," I shot back.

Lance was last seen inflating a small swimming pool in his side yard, wearing shorts, a tee shirt and mirrored glasses. Though he might feel drained, you may splash him at



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home