The Friendly Green Conference program was packed with so many interesting sessions to choose from that I found myself wishing for that little time-turner device Hermione used to magically attend multiple classes in the same time slot. But by the fourth day of the conference, my brain felt saturated and my body was longing for some fresh air.
I was itchy to get outside and see some of the landscape. Every hallway and staircase had a sign informing me what I should do in the event of tornado, and those warnings that I should head to the basement just made me want to go outside. Besides, all my visual images of the state came from The Wizard of Oz, and I felt like those images could use some updating.
When a friend suggested renting bikes so that we could ride along the river, I hesitated for just a moment and flipped through the program to see what I would be missing. I do hate to miss anything. But then he upped the ante. “Plenty of natural light on the levee,” he said. “I’ll pose naked.”
That did it. I owed it to my blog readers to come with a photo of a naked man. I stuffed the conference program back into my backpack. Really, I didn’t have a choice. It was my moral obligation to spend the biking outside in the gentle wind, the sunshine, and the sky filled with clouds that seemed to stretch forever in this land of prairies and twisters and little dogs named Toto.
I don’t have a whole lot of biking experience, but luckily, History Buff had everything figured out. We walked to the bike shop, signed some release forms that we didn’t read because they were clearly not meant for two people with aging eyesight, grabbed the bikes, and were soon on our way. Within a couple of blocks, we’d left the town behind and were riding easily along the top of a levee that stretched alongside a river.
To our left stretched farmland, just flat fields with no trees, and in that landscape, the sky dominated. It was a magnificent sky that kept changing as the sun moved in and out of clouds. I admit that I'd half-expected the landscape to be in black-and-white, so all the colour surprised me. The clouds shifted and shoved each other to make more room, with sections of the sky darkening as more and more clouds crowded in. I tried to imagine what it might be like to see a twister on the horizon, and that made me shiver. It would be terrifying and awesome and incredible, all at the same time.
We talked as we rode, about our lives and our families and the way our bodies have changed as we've gotten older. History Buff stopped patiently every time I wanted to take photographs. We ended up taking naked photos in two different locations. Clearly, we are over-achievers. Or maybe we just really didn’t want to go back to the conference. I love the intellectual stimulation of a plenary talk, but it can’t beat riding a bike under skies rolling with clouds.
Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.