There was a time when I went everywhere barefooted. The grass was wonderful in the morning, chilly and wet with dew. Look behind you and see where you stepped. In the afternoon, the grass was a warm and luscious carpet that sometimes tickled as you walked.
And mud? Mud was a juicy mess all wet and squishy between the toes. Its opposite, the dusty dry ground of summer, made a puff of cloud as you moved. If it rained, puddles were for splashing in and sailing walnut boats. Even light snow had to be
tested and found a delight. Want to climb a tree? Bare toes can help. Climb a hill? They are good for that too. Barefoot, it was all glorious.
Then, as I grew up. I was urged to “put on shoes and behave like a lady.” What fun is that? The grass was the same, so were the mud and the dust and puddles still looked as inviting. And shoes? Shoes were a trap. tight confining and hideous on my size 10 feet (shoe models, at a size 4, make anything look beautiful). Sandals were a possible alternative. At least your feet could breathe. But barefoot was still best. (Who really wants to grow up anyway?)
And then came Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica there are biting things in the grass – fire ants – and not just a mound here or there as we had in Georgia, oh no. Fire ants pop up all over the place. Put a foot down near a mound (or in one) and be swarmed by ants. Flick one away and they all start to bite. They are inside your clothes so fast that all you can do is run for the shower. I have never seen ants move as fast as these little guys. Then there are the spiky weeds and prickly weeds and sharp-edged stones that somehow won’t stay in the driveway. Okay, maybe I could learn to cope with those by avoiding them, but there is one hazard I don’t want to face. Snakes.
I like snakes. We kept snakes when I was growing up, and I had no fear of them. Now, in Costa Rica, I do. Why? Because I have a one-eyed dog, that’s why. She was bitten by a terciopelo, and I have seen others around the property.
Once, I was a carefree barefoot woman. Now I wear heavy boots and keep my eyes open. My only consolation in all this is that, in boots and shorts and my garden hat, I still don’t have to behave like a lady.