Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Art of Smelling Like a Prairie Dog

It has been a month since the last post.  Prairie Eydie is wallowing in the demands of teaching, and I have been shamelessly playing my September away.  I have slept late, read books, watched a Roosevelt documentary in four-hour stints, watched a lot of House Hunters (please don't ask me to explain), soaked up September sun on my deck, gone out to lunch with a few friends. Lovely!

I have spent too much time on my iPad.  I have watched puppy and kitten videos ( through recipes, and researched truly obscure bits of information.  Did you know that milk was only prescribed as a medicine in Ancient Greece? 

Something came across my Facebook feed several days ago that got me to hit the Googlesphere.  It was a blurb on the dangers of hyper-hygiene--aka too much bathing and showering.

Now, I am a person who loves her bath/shower time.  This goes way back to my childhood.  I was a rather anxious child, and I would come home from school ready to snap after a day of intense people-pleasing. Sensing a major meltdown,  my mother would direct me to the bathroom and a tub of warm water.  30-45 minutes later, I would emerge with wrinkled fingers and toes, but calmed. Crisis averted. With this history, I have often found solace among the towels and Ivory Soap--sometimes showering/bathing twice a day if the mood or stress hits me.

Back to the Facebook blurb.  Here I was pummeled with descriptions of the many dangers my squeaky-clean body posed for me.  I had stripped myself of essential oils.  Good bacterial flora had swirled down the drain.  My PH levels were whacked. And then there was my endangered sebum... Lord, I didn't know I had one, let alone the fact that I was regularly loofahing it off.

Is that oil extra virgin???
Further googling uncovering the bathing rituals of the Ancient Romans, which involved dousing themselves with olive oil and scraping their skin clean. The article stated that perhaps that we, too, should rely less on chemicals and water and more on emollients ands gentle exfoliation.  

Research continued. Did you know that there is an anti-shampoo movement--allowing hair to return to its natural state without the use of shampoo--ever? Many models will leave their hair unwashed for up to a week before a big shoot, swearing that the natural oils produced by the scalp make their hair more luxurious and manageable.

I am beautiful and my hair smells like a locker room.

All of this information left me feeling like I had wronged my body for too many years.  Maybe these wrinkles were self-induced. If I had given up the bar of soap in my 20's, would I still have the facial skin of a baby's bottom?  That antiperspirant that I slathered on each morning--was I just clogging pores and allowing toxins to ravage below the epidermis? What would happen when those pores would most assuredly blow?

One article promised me if I ate a healthy diet, there would be no body odor.  Well, I can say that my overall diet is quite good.  I eat lots of organic fruits and veggies, happy meat occasionally, and a good number of protein-packed nuts.  I've cut out many empty calories and developed a taste for hummus. I even chew on a sprig of parsley now and then, which is suppose to freshen the breath and improve your aura (I made up that last part.).  At least in this corner of my life, I feel vindicated. Perhaps I was needlessly covering up and trying to prevent odor that didn't exist?

Yesterday, I woke up with a firm resolution.  No bathing, shampooing, or deodorant.  I had showered the night before. Surely, I had freshness to spare.  I held my own until 10 AM. I realized that we were out of healthy vegetables and fruits, and I need to venture to the grocery.  It was a warm morning.  I was a bit sticky. Evidently I didn't get quite all of my makeup off the night before.  I had raccoon eyes.

I decided that a quick step into a tepid shower with no soap or shampoo could be allowed.  I looked askance at the bottles and tubes of enticing bubbles and scents. Just water.  No lather or abrasives. Two minutes under the water was all I allowed myself, and I gently patted my skin dry to protect what little sebum I had left.  I came close to opening the antiperspirant tube, but then I remembered the suggestion of a pat of baking soda under the arms for a more natural freshness. Usually I will load my hair with product and blow it dry, but this didn't seem to be in keeping with my new lifestyle, so I tossed my head in the breeze while standing on my deck.

Peace and love...peace and love.
Feeling refreshed, PH balanced, and alive with robust and positive bacterial flora, I put on my favorite hippy skirt (one made from recycled t-shirts), a shirt, and feet-breathing flip flops.  I had several hours of errands to run, and was in and out of the car as the September temps rose to the mid 80's.  I came home and folded some laundry.  I had even let my sheets dry on the deck railing.  A natural body needs naturally-dried bedding.

As I dumped said sheets on my bed, I happened to look in the mirror.  My wind-tossed tresses were looking a bit flat and dull. No matter.  One article explained that it often takes several days for the body to adjust to the natural state, and initially the scalp may produce additional oil to make up for what has been unceremoniously removed for years. I push a limp lock back into place with the knowledge that a better hair day was in the future.

I headed outside to water some flowers when my au naturale foot stepped into a bit of of au naturale poop one of my dogs had left in the grass.  I hopped inside and stuck the offending foot in the bathroom sink.  As I reached for the soap, I hesitated.  There is a fine line between good bacteria and bad bacteria.  But as the stench hit my nostrils, I decided that good or bad, this bacteria had to go, and I used a liberal squirt of hand soap.

By this time, I was ready for the nightly news with a glass of wine, and I took myself to the family room where the dogs joined me on the one piece of furniture where they are allowed.  We lounged and relaxed.  I reached over to scratch the older pooch on the back when I noticed a bit of an acrid odor.  I smelled the top of the dog's head thinking that he had rolled in some decaying mushrooms. This is a activity that delights him, but sends the rest of us running.  No, he smelled like newly mowed grass with and undercurrent of fall leaves.   I sniffed the second dog.  No, just a lingering scent of the mint plant that resides near the steps.  The dog sniffed back and sneezed.

I settled back into the news and then stretched my arms over my head to relieve a kink in my neck. There it was again--the stank of stiff socks.  I turned my head and gave an armpit a quick check. The baking soda had caked into the creases and was also adorning the underarm of my t shirt.  The smell was there, sure and strong. This what not the smell of some helpful little organism. This was the fetor (I love this word!) of the unwashed.

With some pride, I will say I didn't run right to the shower.  That happened after dinner and the smog of stir-fried garlic chicken that clung to my hair, my clothes, my arms, my legs.  I stood under the hot water and lathered up my greasy locks, rubbed in facial cleanser, and created a bubble jumpsuit with my peppermint body wash.  The water ran for 20 minutes.

I would have made a terrible Roman.  

Prairie Sherry