Whenever the weather and sand briers permit, I like to work in the garden barefoot. It feels good to have soil beneath my bare feet. My good friend George, may he rest in peace, insisted that it was important to go barefoot in the garden, to draw energy from it and to return some back. Cherie has told me that studies have shown that going barefoot outside is good for the health, that being one of the reasons we just feel better after some time at the beach.
It’s funny to me that it now seems odd to work outside barefoot. When I was a kid we never wore shoes in the summer, except to go to church. We worked in the tobacco fields and gardens, barefoot. Many of the grown-ups did too. Now when I walk around outside in my bare feet I am constantly reminded of how tender they are. But in those days we young’uns laughed at our city kin who wore shoes in the summer, calling them “tenderfoot.” I can remember racing my cousin on a gravel road, he in tennis shoes and me barefoot. The bottoms of our feet were tough.
But those days are gone around here. My own kids almost always wore shoes when they went outside and if they’d started off to do some task without having shoes on I would have sent them back inside to get them.
But I wonder if we haven’t lost something important by always separating our skin from the earth. I wonder if we might have that lift we get from walking barefoot on the beach more often if we’d just walk around our yards and farms sans shoes now and then.
For my part, I intend to keep going barefoot as much as I can around here.