Praise for outdoor showers

Have you ever taken an outdoor shower?

Not been in a rain shower. But taken an actual shower.

Why not? There may be no personal pampering experience more sublime than standing bare under God’s firmament, relishing the cool freshets of pure water tumbling over your gnarled skin.

When we moved into our little place in the Texas Hill Country (documented as Achin’ Acres on my tax form), there stood a modest little structure a few steps from the back porch. Four cedar panels and a swinging door concealed a 5x5-foot shower stall. A large slab of river rock served as the floor.

At first it was used only on the hottest days, as it was a construct I’d never experienced while growing up in colder climes. An outdoor privy, yes. But showering outdoors was a cold prospect most of the year anywhere north of the Red River.

Here, we first discovered the outdoor waterworks were ideal for cleaning up children covered in mud and other mud-colored substances.

As the kids grew older and their ablutions grew more time consuming, in a one-bath house it became a necessity for the old man to nip out to the shower if he wanted to get to work on time.

But what started as contingency soon became my preferred method of getting clean. The daily outdoor shower was something I would have paid for at a spa.

Take my word — there are few things as satisfying as standing under an outdoor cascade, surveying the fields under colorful sunsets, or gazing upward to the star-filled heavens.

There is no denying that part of the appeal is practical. No tubs to rinse out, no drains to plug. As a bonus, the grass is always greener around the shower, and greener still when rinsing out “mud-colored substances.”

I am such an advocate of the outdoor shower, I have turned it into a destination of sorts. I know of at least two families that have installed their own based on the glowing reviews. It has even made the bucket list of some of my nephews to “take an outdoor shower at Uncle Phil’s.”

Twenty-five years after moving in, we have replaced the boards and added a windbreak for the entrance. Outdoor showerers soon learn it is not the temperature that matters to comfort so much as wind. A determined breeze can chill the body much faster than even a nearly freezing temperature.

Yes, I’m talking 32 degrees.

A shower earns its keep in the oppressive heat of a Texas summer, when you sometimes need three showers a day to squeegee away the heat. But my personal best memory is taking a hot shower outdoors as the rare snowfall settled on the edges of the stall. There is something exhilarating in braving the elements with such defiance. I have photo evidence.

I don’t understand the migration of other household functions to the outside. The phenomenon of outdoor kitchens never made sense to me. But give me an outdoor shower any day. In fact move all water-based indoor activities outside.

The grass really is greener.

 

Phil Houseal is a writer and owner of Full House PR, www.fullhouseproductions.net.

Contact him at phil@fullhouseproductions.net.

Fredericksburg Standard

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