Gardening in the buff has led to unexpected stories.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
The Other Edward Carpenter by Anne Goodwin
In another life, he’d freed his feet from the tyranny of shoe leather. Liberated his limbs from linen’s law. He’d felt a lightning flash of revelation, commanding him to shed convention’s carapace with his clothes.
In that life, Edward was a naturist, a socialist, a feminist, an environmentalist and vegetarian. Rambler, recycler, smallholder, author, philosopher and openly gay man. Alas, his current life shrinks him to a single label, distorts his passions with its disapproving prism. His psychiatrist, arriving unannounced to find him gardening naked, observes a symptom of his schizophrenia diagnosis and feels compelled to up his meds.
Pages by Reena Saxena
I’m so sure she has written about me in her book – all those secrets I wouldn’t want the world to know. I’ll find a way to sue her. My lawyer has been sounded off…
I retreat to the farm house to read it – almost afraid the secrets will spill out of pages in the public eye.
I look hard for myself in the pages, with a magnifying glass. All I find is bits and parts of her I’d never seen before.
I wonder how a shy person like her can expose her soul. I’d never seen it, and now.
Pieces by Rebecca Glaessner
Motes danced in the morning’s first sweltering rays. Hektor savoured two plain, poached eggs, resolving to take some home one day.
His mind’s eye showed his home’s rituals, worlds away, mrul-filled bowls steaming. He smelled its comforting decadence.
Outside, planting seedlings, Hektor trained his mind toward his Earthen students, out too, exploring, growing.
He smiled. Like sprouts, humans also need their sunlight.
Then, his mind darkened.
Something distant, unseen, entered the atmosphere.
His pot crashed on pavement.
Stranded among a world of human sprouts, Hektor gathered the broken pot and got to work.
Without a Hat by Norah Colvin
The farmer was out standing in the field when, one day, a wind whipped up and snatched his hat, tossing it into the air. It swooped over the garden beds as if playfully daring, ‘Come catch me.’ But the farmer couldn’t catch the hat which had been a fixture on his head for countless years. Everyone said he looked naked without it, but no other hat would do. Without it, he wilted in sun’s heat and sagged in rain. As the parading seasons took their toll, he disintegrated and decomposed, continuing to nourish the garden in a new way.
Naked Gardening by Liz Husebye Hartmann
It was Mabel’s favorite roadside stand, with unbeatable seasonal produce. Lettuce, firm and delicate, and tomatoes glowing with morning dew and midday sun were so flavorful, a scanty splash of vinegar and virgin olive oil defined perfection. The berries were bright with cool moonlight and damp lake winds dancing over pine and shrub.
Then Elsie, the source garden’s matriarch, had died of COVID from an unmasked customer. Some said the heirs started using chemicals to boost yield.
Mabel checked the rumors with her extra-sensitive skin. Under a moonless sky, she stripped down and lay amongst the lettuces.
Sherlock by C E Ayr
I am tending my marrows, feeling more confident than ever of capturing the Vegetable of the Year Trophy at the Helton-on-Clyde Garden Festival.
My wife always laughed at me when I said I’d do anything to win.
But this new fertiliser, a secret to all except myself, has made such a difference.
A quiet cough makes me turn my head.
Sherlock Holmes, accompanied by Dr Watson, is studying me.
The Great Detective’s first question strips me naked, and tells me that I’m heading for the gallows.
Do you think that your produce is quite suitable for vegetarians, he asks.
Defended the Defenseless by JulesPaige
Nestled in the
Driveways’ edge, last year, caught a break and grew
Naked little leaves unfolded in spring
After a rain,
Plant became a
Priority – in the garden it went
Just today with the grandchildren helping
We added some
Looking at my raised garden, folks might actually think I knew what I was doing. I’m winging it. I’ve got some Bok Choy, rainbow and yellow peppers, some herbs, and of course the lettuce. Watching these plants grow makes my heart sing.
A Brush with Passion by Doug Jacquier
She was so provocative that she put new meaning into garden hoe. Draped across the trellis, she flaunted her nascent fecundity, exposing her femininity to his blushing gaze. Her rampant, unfettered, unproductive growth bore witness to his failure to fulfil his most earnest desire, which was to sup on the nectar of the gods.
He knew what he must do but his hand trembled at the very thought of such intimacy. Nonetheless. he steeled himself to the task and dipped his paintbrush into her stamen and coated her beckoning pistil and imagined the future ecstasy of his passion fruit.
New Neighbor by Anita Dawes
I admit I don’t like gardening, but
I like walking through other people’s gardens,
Admiring all their hard work.
I believe gardeners are a breed apart
Like the sudden sight of a rainbow,
Their joy is palpable.
Today, I am sitting on my porch
Overlooking my neighbours garden
He is new to the neighbourhood
In his mid-twenties, built like a Greek God.
The day was hot, I sat there praying
For a coco-cola advert to appear before my eyes.
He stripped down to his shorts
I reached out for a glass of cold water
Which made my eyes steam…
Morning View by Joanne Fisher
In the morning Cindy quickly got out of bed and went outside to check her new herb garden. Yesterday she had planted some basil, mint, sage, and parsley by the homestead, and that was only the beginning of her plans for it.
“Whatcha doing my love?” Jess asked as she came outside onto the porch drinking some coffee. Cindy looked up at her.
“I’m just checking to see how the herbs I planted yesterday are doing.” Cindy told her.
“It’s not that I don’t admire the view, but don’t you think you should have put some clothes on first?”
Barely Cultivated by Bill Engleson
“He really knows his stuff, Harry. Has a feel for soil, for showing newbies the ropes.”
“But, Walt, he’s also been showing his STUFF. Some of the guys don’t mind, not that they’d say anything, but we’ve got some fairly prim and proper…ladies…can I say ladies?”
“Of course, you can say ladies. I don’t mind.”
“Fine! Ladies. Women. And even some of the guys. People bring their kids. Their Grandkids. It’s not right.”
“Okay, it’s just, you know, Sunshine in The Buff Acres, the local Nudist Club…it got sold. After forty-five years. Our Community Garden was his only option.”
Gardening Naked by Susan Joy Clark
Kendra handed her neighbor, Irene, a pair of gardening shears, handles first, over the garden fence, then screamed.
“What are you screaming about?”
“You … you’re naked! I can not unsee that.” Kendra covered her eyes.
“It’s World Naked Gardening Day, and I’m in my own private yard. It’s liberating. You should try it.”
There’s a day on the calendar for everything! “Uh … no, no thanks. I’m good over here. Carry on.”
Before long, Kendra hears a kerfuffle, then a scream.
“Why are you screaming?”
“Bees! Bees! The whole hive is after me!”
Slip Up by Charli Mills
An early summer scorcher in the Great Basin robbed the buckaroos of their appetite. Bev wasn’t about to see her gang shrivel in the sun unfed. She sliced cold cuts and tomatoes and packed almonds and dried apricots for the trail. Wilfred, the ranch foreman raised a wooly eyebrow but kept silent. He advised everyone to tank up on water and required they carried canteens. After Bev cleaned the cookshack she headed for the garden, feeling sluggish. Later she’d claim she slipped in a pile of fresh horse apples when the crew returned early to find her gardening naked.
Naked Gardening by FloridaBorne
Such a silly concept; naked gardening. Not a fan of squatting that close to soil without something between my derriere and the dirt.
Yes, I know vegetables aren’t grown in grocery stores, and meat doesn’t show up in the butcher shop already sliced, wrapped and priced. Someone has to tend the farms. But(t)… naked?
What’s next… people attending church naked? I don’t want to sit on any public seating where someone else’s squishy bodily fluids await.
With good fortune, nudity, corsets, and stiletto’s will be thrown on the garbage dump of ridiculous fashion ideas — while comfortable clothing prevails.
Lunch and Munch Garden Club by Saifun Hassam
Hi fellow gardeners!
Time for our weekly weedin’ and diggin’ and pickin’!
And for planting tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
We’ll be meeting in the Veggie Patch as per our normal Saturday time, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Lunch will consist of salami and cheese sandwiches, veggie pizza.
Our very fresh garden salad.
Also Stella’s special “Barely Barley Soup.”
Choice of cherry torte, chocolate cake, coffee, tea, orange juice & bottled water.
Bring spades and veggie peelers.
For our very fresh salad, we’ll be digging up carrots and radishes,
picking zucchini and peapods.
Lettuce looks ready.
No dressing required.
Selective Forgetfulness by Sue Spitulnik
When Tessa and her mother arrived at Lexi’s country home, they found her and Emma outside, sitting in the baby’s wading pool, sans clothing.
Lexi said, “Hi. I got some garden planted, but then Emma woke up. When I brought her out here, she kept crawling toward the pool. I was sweaty, so we both got in.”
Tessa smiled. “I can see that.”
Jenny was shocked. “I heard them talking about Gardening Naked Day on the radio this morning, but I didn’t think anyone would do it.”
Tessa responded. “Mom, should I bring up Woodstock stories.”
“That was different!”
Hank’s Tomatoes by Michael Fishman
Every year folks waited for some of Hank’s Brandywines. Don’t know how he does it, some said. Best tomato ever, said others.
When August rolled around and no one had seen Hank or his tomatoes folks worried. It’s the virus, some said. He’ll be around soon, said others.
Then Mrs. Murphy looked out her window one moon-filled evening and saw Hank weeding her flowerbed in the nude and that was that.
After Hank’s mind twisted the town fell quiet. Everyone offered sad, tight-lipped smiles.
Life happens, they all said while saying a prayer for Hank.
And one for themselves.
Drinking While Pruning by Pete Fanning
You hear about Lewis?
No. What now?
He was trying to prune back the cherry tree. The one by his house?
Doesn’t seem odd.
Gladys said he’d been drinking. He was hot, so he stripped down.
Naked as he came.
He’s going on about the limbs, said they were messing with his satellite reception.
I don’t think it was the tree.
He’s got the shears, but then, no ladder. So he drags out the neighbor’s trampoline—
–and he’s jumping, trying to, you know…
Don’t tell me.
Pruned his own cherries.
Garden Club Party by Kerry E.B. Black
Fiona covered her eyes. “What are you doing?”
Her brother, Ian, lifted weights. “Getting ready for the party.”
“You know the hot chick across the street?”
Fiona crossed her arms. “The woman who just moved in?”
“Yeah, her. She’s started a garden club.”
“You don’t garden.”
Ian leapt to the chin-up bar. “Thought…” pulled himself up, “I’d try…” chin-up, “Something new.”
“But where’re your clothes?”
“Read the invitation. Printed right there, ‘Come to the Buff Garden Club Party.’ Now, I’ve got to shower.”
Fiona wondered when he’d notice the name on the mailbox. It read, “The Buffs.”
Bare by Matt Wester
We are not your typical gardening group. When the last applicant joked that he was layered like an onion, we told him to get out. We don’t do layers here. We know you have nothing unless you get to the heart of the artichoke. Hear me? Raw vegetables only. We only want you if you know that everything but the root is decoration. We bare it all to bear it all and that’s why we call it naked gardening. So if you’re not willing to get dirty and tell the truth then get gloved and find some other group.
Under the Full Moon by Colleen M. Chesebro
The moon’s glow washed over my garden, lighting up the angelica, feverfew, and mugwort shimmering with healing energy. I gathered my tools and prepared for my early summer gardening ritual. I stripped naked and danced under the full moon.
My garden produced an amazing number of herbs from this tradition. I sold these herbs for sacred baths, teas, and tinctures, and even sewed them into spell bags.
Naked gardening imbued my herbs with strong magick. For years, I’d kept this secret under wraps—literally! Until today when a camera flash exploded in front of me! My secret was out!
Exposed by D. Avery
“I’m too fat!”
She didn’t think so, though it was hard to tell through Amanda’s bulky clothes.
“Amanda, it’s your choice, but remember, part of World Naked Gardening Day for us has always been about being comfortable with our own bodies, of celebrating the naturalness of them.”
Maybe Amanda also craved the normalcy that the unusual family tradition offered because she eventually did join them.
How had she not noticed?
Keeping a brave face through the planting, trying not to stare at the sharp collarbone and raised ribs, she determined to call their physician regarding anorexia that very day.
Naked and Afraid by Donna
once, long, long ago
a man and a woman
ate fruit from the tree of knowledge
and what was this knowing they ate?
sharp thorns cutting their feet
sun burning their eyes
shame at their sexual differences
soon, they left this garden
into the world, they went
naked and afraid
and a battle ensued
they covered themselves
animal skin over human skin
eyes averting the nakedness
words deflecting kinship
the man and woman
barriers between them
until, at last
some began to see
with new eyes, new understanding
it is only by our exposure
we can connect
Kid and Pal Hangin’ Out by D. Avery
“Aaahhhggg! Ain’t never wanted ta see this side a ya Kid.”
“Not thet side neither! Kid, why’re ya gardenin’ in yer birthday suit?”
“Almanac says plant by a full moon. Mmm, feel that loam ‘twixt yer bare toes.”
“I’ll jist take ma boots off.”
“Sunbeams sure feel good on yer belly.”
“Mebbe ma shirt.”
“Ahh, breeze in my hair.”
“Yer hair? Yer wearin’ yer hat. Oh. I see. Jeez Kid. Feels good though?”
“Mebbe this is whut them writers mean ‘bout pantsin’. Ok, they’re off. Mmmm. I feel powerfully vulnerable.”
“Own it, Pal. Cultivate yer power.”