Posted by: Silver | October 1, 2010

Silver goes Hippy

Salt Spring Island has a long-standing reputation as a centre of ‘alternative’ lifestyles, so if I was going to turn into a counter-culture cliché anywhere, I guess it was going to be here…

It all started with the skinny-dipping. Given Salt Spring’s reputation, I don’t suppose I should have been at all surprised to have my question about swimming in the local lake answered with “This is the Island, Sister: clothing is optional!” Actually, it wasn’t just here on ‘the island’ that birthday-suit bathing had been presented to me as an entirely normal Canadian activity, but I’d always been way too British to even contemplate such a thing previously. But now, three-and-a-bit months into my life as a Canadian, I reckoned I might be prepared to give it a go… The weather was certainly perfect for it – warm, late-summer sunshine – and so, calling on the tried and tested childhood ruse of ‘if I can’t see me, neither can you’, I steadfastly refused to look down as my clothing fell to the dock and I made my way towards my full-immersion baptism as a Canadian.

It was, quite literally, a breath-taking experience. Once I’d recovered from the initial shock, though (and I speak here as someone who normally grumbles under her breath when the swimming pool dips below 27ºC), it was genuinely quite pleasant, and I was somewhat loathe to get out again (and not just because I was convincing myself that the crystal clear water was somehow protecting my modesty). I’m not sure the absence of a bathing costume really made that much difference to the experience, but I’m certainly a convert to the joys of lake swimming, and hey, at least I didn’t have to worry about carrying a wet costume back home.

And so, after lettin’ it all hang out at the lake, I then moved on to the ultimate hippy cliché: tree-hugging. And, I’m almost embarrassed to say, I genuinely did feel something. Of course, rational-minded modern woman that I am, I immediately put it down to some sort of self-created psychological artefact, but further scientific investigation (otherwise known as ‘going round hugging lots more different trees’) indicated that the effect did seem to vary from tree to tree, independent of my (psychological) expectations. I’m sure that, if I were a true hippy, I would understand that such things are beyond the realm of scientific investigation, but at this point, my inquisitive mind is certainly intrigued to know exactly what was going on…

The scene of my first skinny-dipping experience (no, I will NOT be posting the photo of me actually in the lake...)

A couple of random shots from Salt Spring Island, for those who have asked for more photos; this one was taken in Ruckle Provincial Park

Fulford Harbour, just down the road from where I was staying

Organic fruit and veg were certainly very well represented at the Island's Farmers' Market



  1. Since I was around during the Hippy-Dippy days….. Skinny -dipping was very freeing!!!!! we loved the movement…. of course, I skinny -dipped in the Southern California Pacific Ocean…. the water was perfect!!!!
    As for the Hippy Tree huggers , some were Hippys, Most were just students who dressed as Hippys, and needed a cause!!!! Hey, it was the 60’s, ya know!!

  2. You may be new to skinny dipping and tree hugging, Silver, but you’ve always been a scientific hippy! And what a fun way to be.

    We skinny dipped in the Norfolk Broads recently –
    not quite as breath-taking as Salt Spring, but very quiet and pretty!

    As for tree-hugging, you’re preaching to the choir, Sister. 😉

    It’s wonderful, reading your posts, to see your dream unfold.

    Amuse-toi bien!

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