Last summer, I blogged about the Boulder, Colo., couple who were threatened with eviction because they liked to stroll outdoors and garden wearing little more than thong underwear.
I promised to update the story and was a little concerned I wouldn't be able to deliver on a followup. But the Boulder nature boy and girl have come through. As certain as spring follows winter, this too-much-skin story has come roaring out of hibernation.
According to an Associated Press story, the Boulder Housing Partners plans to amend its rules and require that tenants wear more than thongs, pasties and a smile when they're outside. The housing authority has not bared its soul on what it has in mind for proper attire.
What got this human interest story about the pursuit of liberty and no tan lines rolling again? It seems several passers-by told Boulder police that they saw 52-year-old Catharine Pierce was topless while tending her yard on St. Patrick's Day. (Saints be praised.)
Last year, she was threatened with eviction for gardening while wearing only pasties and a thong. This time she was wearing a yellow thong and pink gloves. What's the problem? What's more springlike than pink and yellow? And shouldn't the pink gloves count for proper gardening attire? OK, I'll grant that if she'd worn a green thong and shamrock pasties to honor St. Patrick, she might have avoided another uproar. But the Pierces appear to be a couple who savor a vigorous public debate.
When the police responded, they decided no laws were broken. Her husband, Robert Pierce, who has been known to do the thong thing outdoors, said he would fight any changes that would outlaw his wife's topless gardening, which is legal under state and city law.
As I wrote last year, I don't have an interest in practicing semi-nude gardening. I prefer to wear clothes because they're handy for wiping dirty hands. The idea of rubbing dirt-covered hands on sweaty skin seems a good way to make a lot of mud. And mud is something I try avoid when gardening.
In April, the City Council is expected to consider expanding an anti-nudity ordinance, but a draft proposal to make it an offense for women to go topless in public was removed. The city and the housing authorities are separate entities, and the city cannot dictate the agency's rules, a city spokesman said.
No story about scantily clad gardening would be complete without drawing the American Civil Liberties Union into the fray. The Pierces apparently have not asked the ACLU to join their cause, but the AP felt obliged to include the civil liberties group's position if for no other reason than to rachet up the emotions of conservative readers.
Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder County chapter of the ACLU, said neighborhoods can generally make their own rules for residents. He said the ACLU does not support limits that are more restrictive than the law.
Seems a reasonable enough stance. It may be the only reasonable aspect of this entire saga.
I can see this whole topless gardening thing growing into a rite of spring in Boulder. Residents would know spring had arrived by observing the first day Catharine Pierce emerged from her home topless. It sure beats basing one's forecast for spring on whether a pampered groundhog crawls out of its hole to the glare of klieg lights and cheering thongs (excuse me, I meant throngs).
Lost in all the brouhaha are the questions this blog considers most important: What do the Pierces raise in the garden? Are they any good at gardening or is their crowning gardening achievement getting the neighbors to raise Cain? And does Catharine Pierce have a green thumb to go along with the yellow thong and pink gloves?