Musings of a lightly boiled prune

waddeson manor

There is a limit to how cold is too cold…and mine starts around ‘not very’. I’m not a hot weather person, but I don’t do cold all that well either and between the small dog insisting on open doors and a recalcitrant heating system, I am over my limit. I usually wake to a warm house, but by the time the small dog and I have braved the frosty morning, I am chilly. By the time I’ve scraped the ice off the car and driven to work, the heater is just beginning to warm up and bits of me are beginning to thaw. Feed the fish, treat the hot-tub and the temperature is dropping again… then into the shelter of my son’s home…

…which is where the cold really sets in. Nick’s internal temperature mechanism malfunctions since the brain injury and, even in the depths of winter, his home is largely unheated. A few hours of that and my skin has shrunk.

Now, I wouldn’t mind if it would stay shrunk…or shrink all the bits it is holding in… but no, can’t have that… I just end up feeling stretched and tight and walking around with clenched teeth. And today I came home to a cold house yet again. I was obliged to do the unthinkable and wallow, mid afternoon, in a steaming hot bath to thaw out.

This was a very bad move. I took a book in there with me and, several chapters and the fall of Atlantis later, realised I would emerge looking like a cross between a lightly boiled prune and a lobster. Eventually…

Men do not understand the concept of a hot bath. I have lived in a household of men and heard the agonised yelps when they have gingerly lowered themselves into baths that I have helpfully prepared. Dermatologists and the medical profession also have reservations. Women, however, seem to understand that a proper hot bath is one that changes skin colour on contact, leaving a red tide-mark  when a limb is immersed.

I think women like baths more than men do. We seem to like them hotter too. The baths, that is. Wonder if that is physiological or something to do with our inner make-up? Maybe it is to do with resiliency or adaptability? Maybe we are just weird. Many men would agree on that. I do myself. Such a bath can be enjoyed for far longer than is strictly necessary and provides a means of escape from the kitchen sink/football match on TV/teenagers. It has little to do with cleanliness and more to do with relaxation. Or in my case, avoiding frostbite.

So I wallowed. There are times when you have to.

The word ‘wallow’ always makes me think of hippopotami… water horses. I look down the undulating curves turning lobster pink in the hot water; think water-horses, not hippos, woman. My mind touches lightly on Disney’s dancing hippos … and shies deftly away from such comparisons.

The dog watches from a safe distance while the steam rises from the hot, fragrant water.I can read…and think. Showers are wonderful for getting clean but a bathtub is more of a meditative experience.

I have fond memories of Disney and bathtubs. My mother painted wonderful murals on the bathroom walls with a walrus over the taps when I was a child…the toilet became a toadstool, the long, dangling chain a caterpillar on a thread…Warmth envelops me.

I watch the steam curl up the wall, white against white, dissipating slowly. The transformation from water to steam and back to water through condensation against the cold tiles… I muse upon the cycle of existence and the changes that occur, day in, day out; a spiral of being and becoming.

The dog watches me watching and I watch her creep a little closer, knowing that once the soap is in action she is fairly safe from being tricked or dragged into the tub. So who is watching who? We are both observer and observed and part of what we observe, yet we can separate out the one from the whole without the whole becoming less. We can separate myriad components from the whole yet it remains whole.

I put the book down and reach for the towel dangling over the sink. The chill on my skin is pleasant and the water feels even hotter as I sink back in. The contrast is good. Hot and cold, dark and light… you wouldn’t see or feel anything without that contrast.

The soap slips out of my grasp and I look for it with my toes.

You shouldn’t be able to drop soap really… it is big enough to hold, made for a hand to hold… You always end up dropping it. Well, I do. Funny though, it wears away so much quicker if you leave it in the water than if you actually use it. Makes the water murky too. Must be something in that… use it or lose it; we hear that a lot these days. Perhaps life is like soap? Lasts longer and functions better when used?

The water is probably too hot; the submerged bits are vivid against the white. Do I care? Not a jot. The heat is doing wonders for aching muscles and thawing things I didn’t even know were cold. You just have to go for it sometimes, even if ‘ought to’ says you shouldn’t. I ought to take cooler baths. Allegedly.

Getting in hot water… we talk about that when we get in trouble. Deep water, out of our depth… lots of watery things relate to living.

My hair has already dried… ringlets I expect. How incongruous to have ringlets at my age. Or maybe it is perfect, an external reminder of the inner child. Though what the wild frizz says is anybody’s guess. I wonder what we would look like if we could wear our inner self on the outside? Vague visions of innards are hastily dismissed… Some do; you can see who they are just by looking. Even with your eyes closed. You can feel them. I close my eyes and drift on the steam…

… to be called back to reality by a cold, wet nose judiciously applied to my left ear. Ani stands beside the tub watching expectantly. She licks her muzzle. It is her dinner time. Sometimes words are not needed.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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56 Responses to Musings of a lightly boiled prune

  1. This must be one of the things that happens as you get older. Ones thermostat gets dodgy. I hate extreme heat, but cold gets right into my bones. So I say … Hey, let’s go live in the Caribbean. Warm, never hot, an hour of rain a day, tall drinks, sandy beaches. Palm trees. No winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Green Embers says:

    Yeah, I think a nice moderate climate is the best. I kinda wonder if the expression of getting in hot water more refers to cooking rather than baths cuz a nice hot bath is great.

    Like

  3. Ritu says:

    I totally agree Sue!!!!!
    I’m not a cold weather person, yet I melt in the summer if it’s too hot! I agree with Marilyn about moving to the Caribbean!!

    Like

  4. Baths are wonderful, and so is weird. 🙂

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  5. We men have natural oils that gently cleanse us as we move. 😁

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  6. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, there’s nothing to beat a good wallow in a hot bath – great for reading, dreaming, thinking. It’s the best way to to get warm. My husband does enjoy a bath but wallows in lukewarm rather than hot, topping it up from time to time. He has lukewarm showers, too, and I’ve heard him shriek when he has stepped under the shower without turning down the setting from when I showered.

    Like

  7. TanGental says:

    I’ve always loved piping hot baths, mote than anyone else in the family. And yes, they are about the experience not the wash. And Mylo loves to lick my hair to remove surplus water which is the nearest get to conditioner – arguably washing the little I have is not necessary.

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  8. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie and commented:
    unable to take baths these days, my back will not allow it, but boy how I do miss it!

    Like

  9. I’m not a wallower… but this sure makes it sound enticing.

    And, I love your mom’s creative flow….right into the bathroom! Brilliant!

    Like

  10. Helen Jones says:

    Nothing wrong with a good wallow, Sue, especially when it leads to such wonderfully wandering thoughts 🙂 I miss my old bath – it was nice and deep, long enough for me to almost lie down, with a slope at one end to lean against. My current bath is much smaller, and so knees remain bent and it’s just not the same relaxing experience. Like you, I also believe a bath should be warm enough to change skin colour on immersion – otherwise it just gets cold too quickly!

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  11. I can’t remember the last time I’ve stopped to take a bath. Childhood perhaps. A nice beating shower is my thing. But the sound of a moment in a hot tub feels scandalously inviting. 😀

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  12. Our home came with a huge soaking tub that graces the corner of the room. I have to dust it occasionally, it almost never gets used. That seems sad, but I never really enjoyed it. My internal temp is too high, and I much prefer a shower. ☺
    I love your childhood memories of the tub, mine were so very different. House with 8 people, 1 bathroom, no shower, shared bathwater for the kids. Not a pleasant memory, and I was delighted to move away to a place with showers. I guess that was the influence that made a difference for me. Nice post. Love the Ani ending. 💕

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  13. There is nothing quite as traumatic as when a man’s ‘dangling participles’ hit hot or cold water. Plus, soaking in my own ‘body soup’ is not a fun activity for me 🙂

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  14. Sounds like a wonderful bath Sue..just as I like it hot and deep😊💕

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  15. dgkaye says:

    Now that was an inviting tale of a luxurious hot bath.
    And yes, I’m inclined to believe women far more appreciate the benefits of a steaming hot bath – with bubbles? 🙂

    Like

  16. noelleg44 says:

    I didn’t know that NIck couldn’t thermoregulate normally. Tough on anyone in his house! But aaah, the wonders of a hot, steamy bath. I use our hot tub regularly – I love it when it snows!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      One of those odd, invisible side effects. Much better now than it was initially, but he even has to drop the bedroom temperature in winter to be able to sleep and it is like walking into a fridge on a morning.

      Like

  17. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds blissful! We have a jacuzzi that I rarely use because it uses tons of water (environmental guilt) and I’d have to clean the tub first (I am a rather lazy housekeeper). But your post makes me reconsider!

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  18. Widdershins says:

    ‘cooler baths’ … ** shudders**

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  19. Personally I can’t see the point of a bath unless it’s really hot. Having said that, the number of baths I’ve had in the last year can be counted on one hand. Which is a shame really as we deliberately bought a nice big bath so we could enjoy a really nice soak. I guess, at heart, I’m just a shower person really – but I still like them hot.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      My shower is a piddling little affair, but does the job for getting clean. The bathtub has nothing to do with external cleanliness…it is all about wallowing. I don’t do it often enough 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. macjam47 says:

    There is nothing more relaxing than a hot bath and time to let your mind wander, if it weren’t for phones ringing, people knocking at the door to ask, ‘what’s for dinner?’. or the persistent knocking at the front door that no one in the house seems to hear, save you, who are behind closed doors, dripping wet, without a stitch on. And when you are chilled to the bone, nothing cures it like a hot soak. Soak on, Sue, soak on.

    Like

  21. olganm says:

    Hot baths are great but for some reason (perhaps because I live by myself and don’t need to hide that much) I don’t have baths very often. After reading your post I should (but I’m at my mother’s and she doesn’t have a bath so…). You’re definitely right about the temperature of the water and places. There was even an article about discussions at workplaces because mostly the people who set thermostats are male and women are forever complaining they are cold.
    http://www.wired.com/2015/08/men-women-battle-office-thermostat/
    Happy and warm weekend, Sue!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      There is a physiologically sound basis for how we feel the cold more… I can’t recall what it is, but I remember heaving sigh when I read it years ago 🙂
      I live alone too, so the need to hide is no longer present… just the need to thaw 🙂 x

      Like

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