Idle days in Patagonia
by William Hudson


"Like Waterton I have found that the feet take very kindly to the earth, however hot or cold or rough it may be, and that shoes, after being left off for a short time, seem as uncomfortable as a mask. The face is always uncovered; why does the supposed correlation not apply to this part? The face is pleasantly cool when the sun shines hot on us. When the wind strikes us on a hot day, or during violent exercise, the sensation to the face is extremely agreeable. But far from agreeable to the body where the covering does not allow the moisture to evaporate rapidly.

The umbrella has not entered the soul - not yet; but is miserable to get wet in the rain, yet pleasant to feel to feel the rain on the face. “I am all face”, the naked American savage said, to explain why he felt no discomfort from the bleak wind which made his civilised fellow-traveller shiver in his furs. Again, what a relief, what a pleasure, to throw off the clothes when occasion permits. Leigh Hunt wrote an amusing paper on the pleasures of going to bed, when the legs, long separated by unnatural clothing, delightedly rub against and renew their acquaintance with the other. Everyone knows the feeling. If it were convenient, and custom not so tyrannical , many of us would be glad to follow Benjamin Franklin’s example, and rise not to dress, but to settle comfortably down to our morning’s work, with nothing on.

When for the first time, in some region where nothing but a fig-leaf has “entered the soul” we see men and women going about naked and unashamed, we experience a slight shock; but it has more pleasure than pain in it, although we are reluctant to admit the pleasure, probably because we mistake the nature of the feeling. If, after seeing them for a few days in their native simplicity, our new friends appear before us clothed, we are shocked again, and this time disagreeably so; it is like seeing those who were free and joyous yesterday now appear with fettered feet and sullen downcast faces.”[1]


[1] Hudson, William, Idle days in Patagonia, London 1936, Cap.13 The Plains of Patagonia, Pag. 217-218
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