Going barefoot

Back this week, after some lovely family time away, to the dying days of the summer, although with rowan berries glowing and acorns on the ground it’s been feeling like the season has been on the turn for a few weeks now.

As part of my project to try doing things a different way I’ve spent most of the summer when I’ve been out in the garden barefoot and so has the little man. It’s always been something I’ve liked to do and I was always first to abandon my uncomfortable shoes when on the dancefloor but this summer I’ve made it much more of a daily habit.

Every morning my ritual has been to waken myself from slumber by walking in the garden in my pyjamas and feeling the dewy grass underfoot. It’s a lovely way to wake up and that first blast of fresh air in the lungs in the morning is really invigorating, but also at the same time, calming.

I first really became interested in being barefoot when first watching the little man learning to walk. Advertising and grandparents will have us putting shoes on little feet as soon as possible, but I kept the shoes off his feet, despite the pressure. After observing him trying to take his tentative first steps I noticed first hand just how he used his toes and his full foot to grip and balance himself – something that with shoes on he wouldn’t have been able to do. Ever since then I’ve encouraged him to abandon the shoe leather in favour of being able to feel his toes wriggle and feet to make contact with the earth.

Barefootedness isn’t really a thing in England, like it is in other countries. My neighbour recently had her grandson to stay over from New Zealand, he walks everywhere with no shoes, and even drives barefoot.  The soles of his feet have become like shoes in themselves.

There are several things I’ve noticed after spending a lot of time shoeless this year, some good, some bad:

  1. It really hurts when you tread on Lego (an occupational hazard in this house) and stubbing my toes seems to be something I do a lot, which also hurts.
  2. Ditto walking on gravel.
  3. Walking on dewy early-morning grass is a delight and wakes you up gently. Although you need to look out for slugs and snails.
  4. Despite me thinking that hard surfaces would slough off any roughness from the soles of my feet, this hasn’t happened. Instead my heels have acquired a deep patina of muck that is immune to scrubs and shower gel.
  5. People look at you a bit oddly when they see you in no shoes, and the little man is constantly being told to ‘put something on your feet’.
  6. This morning I walked out for the first time in months and the ground felt cold – my body could tell me that chilly September mornings are on the way before the garden thermometer.

I’m going to keep my barefoot project going for as long as possible, as I’ve now got to the stage where I find wearing shoes constantly a bit restrictive, but it may also mean that when the time comes over the next couple of months for colder weather, slippers and boots I may appreciate their cosy embrace a little more.

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