October 26, 2016 | Rome, Italy | Sunny 22°C

The great outdoors

By Lucy Brignall
Published: 2016-09-30

Waiting up for the meteors…

hen you live in the back of the beyond — in our case a farm house in Le Marche — you enjoy unexpected benefits that don't necessarily appear in the estate agent's blurb. For example, you can pee anywhere you like, take a snooze anywhere you please, and not concern yourself with what you wear. Dressing to impress doesn't really help your status in the countryside.

But the best fringe benefit by far is being able to sleep out, particularly when summer temperatures soar. There's no other way to get through the night.

When it gets particularly stifling I wonder how Italian apartment dwellers manage. Air conditioning may have have some followers in the city but not in the countryside.

Years ago, when our family was still young, we'd all sleep on a large trampoline. But as we grew up the brood began sagging toward the middle. That ended the trampoline days.

Now, the more dedicated outdoor sleepers among us just haul their beds outside. There are contingency plans of course. If it looks like rain the beds stay inside. Most of us tend to sleep facing west, to avoid the fierce glare of the rising sun. Though everyone has their quirks, it all seems to works out wonderfully.

We do have our share of skeptics. Many ask me how we deal with mosquitos. The truth is that sleeping outside makes you less vulnerable than in. The bugs have more to choose from. Set your bed up behind lavender bush and you're even more protected (though some of my family hides behind the bush to avoid our dog and its fleas).

One summer we saw amazing meteor showers. Or some of us did. Night after night my daughter and I were bewitched by shooting stars cascading across the sky above our cozy beds. This summer we refurbished a local B&B, and since we weren't at home we girls deferred to social convention and refrained from the outdoor ritual. My sons were less inhibited, stringing up hammocks. Then came the August earthquake, which gave us the perfect excuse to pitch the tent.

Now, even as the evenings begin cooling off and autumn's whiff is in the air, we're finding it hard to go back in. I'm not sure exactly what's stopping us but we all feel it. Maybe we've grown accustomed to the fresh air and the sense of space. So much so that going back inside feels like choosing confinement ahead of freedom.

So we've decided to see how long we can last outdoors. We've already equipped ourselves with furry pajamas and hot water bottles, not exactly sexy but practical. Check back with us in November.

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