Every Monday here in Brännö, the women can–and do–go skinny dipping.
It’s nice to start an article with a sentence like that. Even if it’s not quite true. But it’s true enough for me to be able to get away with it, because this evening was Monday. And this evening I did, for the first time since I was 18 years old (in a rather hotter climate than this one and with rather more alcohol in my system). I certainly wasn’t the only one, and I’ll be doing it again next Monday.
This weekend saw as many get togethers as our little house and my liver could handle, only for me to start the week tired and needing to stack up on carbohydrates to compensate for my drained energy levels.
So when my friend invited me over for a drink and a chat I asked for a raincheck.
‘Okay.’ She said ‘Why don’t we go to the sauna instead and we can drink some herbal tea afterwards?’
‘Cos that’s the way we roll here in Brännö…
I’ve seen what passes for a sauna here. At the furthest end of the island off a jetty is a tiny open air stage floor where they hold music evenings and at one side, someone thought it would be a great idea to build a hut behind it, with a little kitchen, sauna and a balcony leading down to a swimming platform.
‘How does it work?’ I said cautiously. ‘Would we be naked?’
‘Yes. But it’s ladies night. Ladies have a different key than the men do. Meet me there at 8pm.’
Eager to try out my newfound taste for adventure and see how far it took me, I agreed. It’s pitch black to cycle there across the fields (helmetless of course), and when you creep across the wooden jetty, there are no lights and it’s not manned.
But you can go in with the key you pay for on a yearly basis, undress in the little kitchen, turn the temperature up and bake until your heart’s content, popping out naked every so often to shower or drink water, whilst other random naked people chat and have beer or tea in the kitchen.
‘I’m going out for a swim,’ she said.
‘It’s freezing.’ I said. Well it wasn’t literally, but 10 degrees. Which is basically the same for me. Freezing. Oh, and also pitch black in an unknown sea.
‘It feels really lovely after the sauna, trust me.’
‘And I guess that’s naked too?’ I said.
‘Of course. But watch out for the jellyfish.’
It was dark but jelly fish give off this weird glow so you can see them bobbing about in the water. There were two.
She said ‘When we were little, we used to scoop out the blue ones and throw them at each other. But I haven’t seen any blue ones for years, only the red ones are around nowadays and they’re poisonous.’
As she climbed naked down the ladder, she said ‘Watch for the light from the microorganisms ‘ And as she threw herself into the water her lit up ghostly self followed her as microscopic bioluminescent creatures emitted flashes of light as a fear response to the movement of the water. It was amazing. Nudity and magic.
We went back in the sauna, and repeated the whole process once more and then came out for herbal tea. As we walked out, the moon had appeared from behind the clouds lighting up the water and the bridge. And I felt simply marvellous. Re-energized, Alive. There is something liberating about being naked with the nature. And swimming naked at night after a sauna is an unmitigated pleasure.
See, I’ve never had a bucket list, and I don’t intend to have one either. I’m just crossing things off as soon as I discover them.