Saturday, September 22, 2007


I’ve always been a tenderfoot, always; wish I wasn’t but I am and that’s that. Growing up in rural Massachusetts, there were plenty of barefoot moments – Fishing or canoeing, running in the backyard grass – There, I could get away with bare feet, but when push came to shove on the hot cement of a downtown sidewalk, the burning sand at Truro beach, or the rough gravel back by the railroad tracks, others could hoof it, but I had to resort to flip flops at least, if not shoes.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can tough it out with the proper amendments. Seven years of wildfire fighting was no problem, but then I had White’s, very good boots custom made in Spokane. Last time I picked them up after their first complete resole, (They’ve been through 5 partials and are now 29 years old and going strong), and the guy behind the counter, looking at me funny, asked, “What do you do with these boots?” We talked about who made them, (This was in Bellingham, Washington 20 years after they were made), he knew who Whites was and of the legendary “Old leather” that they used to use that can’t be had any more… Eventually I mentioned they’d been through all those wildfire fighting seasons and he stopped looking suspicious and smiled; “That’s what it was – The entire mid sole was burned and we wondered what the heck you’d been doing with them!”
And now I live in Texas, and there are even fewer places I can hack the barefoot walk. Grass is tougher and meaner down here, and we replaced our backyard with lovely river rock, but I have the hardest time walking on it barefoot. Even if I’m only making the short trip from patio to veggie garden for some peppers or a little Basil, I stumble and curse as my tender feet suffer the indignities of the unpredictable surface…
I sat out back on a chair dug sturdily into that river rock, thinking of this early this morning, under our lovely Maple tree, surrounded by happy plants artfully arranged and tended by Monica, a Nicolas Freeling book across my knees and a hot cup of good coffee in hand…
I watched my eldest cat saunter into the back yard, wherein she spied me comfortably seated; meowing a greeting, she made her way over in a leisurely fashion, no doubt looking for a skritch and perhaps to flop down in the shade. It was with some satisfaction that I watched her cross onto the rock, whereupon she displayed all the grace of a drunk reeling across a midnight alley, or a fighter describing a last pirouette, having taken a final uppercut to the chin.
“Been walking long?” I chuckled, scratching her behind the ears.