Twenty minutes before the sun rises over the top of the barns and silo of the farm to the southeast, I quietly unlock the front door and gingerly tiptoe across the shivery cold concrete of the front porch to grab the morning paper. Even through thick chenille socks, my feet feel the funny mixture of slick and chalky texture of the concrete. One foot stretched behind me to keep the storm door propped open, I make the grab and quickly hop across the tiny rows of ridges of the threshold and slide for a second on the laminate floor. It's not quite the shellac-ish slide of a real wood floor, but more of a faintly cushioned glide. Winter morning wake-up for the soles, that's what all that is.
My soul has been contemplating the freshness and joy of soles going bare. I just read Born to Run by Chris McDougall, and my barefoot-going-whenever-possible self is itching for a break in the freezing winter weather. Actually, the forecast for here calls for temps in the 40's this week. . . and that just might do the trick for moi. If only the recent snow had already been completely absorbed into the soil, I might even do a little barefoot dance in the not quite all green, but not quite all brown either, yard. Tales of Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara and Barefoot Ted get in your head (along with the stories and studies and hypotheses about why we were born to run), and the itch to fly barefoot down a trail starts to infect you. Never mind that you aren't in shape. Never mind that you cringe at the thought of accidentally landing on a soda pop top at the edge of the road. Never mind that it's wet and cold outside (and will be for a few more months). Sh--, never mind practicality. . . after all, my CB handle way back when was Barefoot Princess. Ahhhhhhh, wiggle your toes with me, and just think about all the pleasures of going barefoot.
Soft cushions of coarse grass filling in the lawn in spring, giving bare feet landing spots as you pick your way across, trying to avoid the spongy mud in between those sparse clumps. . . Silky, thin blades of blue grass teasing your toes with a little bit of coolness in the summertime. . . dry, fat blades of tall grass at the edge of the mowed yard, tangling between your toes if you traipse through the ditch. . .
Little sharp peas of gravel scattered here and there in a driveway, keeping you alert as you pick out the best, and shortest, possible path back to the porch when your shoes aren't handy. . . half dollar sized pieces of gravel smooshed into the layers of dirt and rocks, creating tiptoe-tiny islands of relief for even the toughest of bare feet. . . puddles so fresh and clear from a late afternoon summer rain that you almost hate to step in them and stir up little columns of swirling miniature mud tornadoes. . .
Natural rock steps in the rocky land at your grandparents' place, soaking up sunlight's heat and scorching your feet a little bit if you don't bounce across quickly. . . fresh-looking blacktop, still with that black-black-black look instead of toned down grayish black, sizzling hot even on a summer morning, making a desert badland that makes your barefoot self wonder if a candy bar and cold Coke from the little country store will make your singed tootsies feel all or better in the end. . .
Ahhhhhh, barefoot is good, isn't it?