Nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains on acres of brush and redwoods, in a spacious canvas yurt, the member of the nudist colony - they prefer to be called naturistes like the French - asked me the question I'd asked myself driving here. "So what did you expect a naturiste book group to be like?" Should I say seeing flabby, pale bodies that I'd avert my eyes from and in vain try to concentrate on answering questions about my book? Or the fear that I'd giggle and pull my sweater tighter or some remnant of my Catholic school upbringing would kick in and I'd flee in embarassment? None of those seemed to fit since I faced a yurt full of clad bodies straining near the heater on a crisp November afternoon. Jackets, jeans and sweaters all around. "Actually, I was told to expect probing questions, insightful comments that would send me fumbling in my brain searching for a response," I said. Everyone laughed and we took care of the nudist elephant in the yurt. Ok, I did see naked people earlier in the afternoon, at the pool, near the sauna and in the parking lot but it was no big deal. They were part of the atmosphere like the sand volleyball court, the cedar wood dining room - and a natural accompanient to the photographic exhibiton of naked women ranging from 1 to 100 years old proudly displayed on the walls of the lodge. The book group members were warm, welcoming, funny and very smart people. Even though they espoused a 'clothing optional life' I actually forgot that and we got into a serious discussion of French anti-semitism, in the past and now and at dinner debated over European facsism and the supposed charisma of dictators like Stalin and Hitler. I left with an invitation to return in spring when it would be warmer and I could be 'clothing optional', too.