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Talking It Over: Barefoot on the farm in summer

This week has been designated as National Agriculture Week, which can mean many things to different people. For me, it usually sends me back in time to think about the years I spent growing up on the farm. The carefree days that also included a great deal of hard work, dedication, hope and prayers.

This year, when I thought about growing up on the farm, I remembered how I used to enjoy running around barefoot from spring to fall. I could not wait for the snow to disappear so I could kick off my shoes and run around through the cool, damp grass. When fall arrived and I had to start wearing shoes again, I suffered terribly with what I felt was a heavy burden weighing down my feet.

This could explain many things about me today. I still hate to wear shoes and I really dislike shopping for shoes. This is just not typical of most women, but for me, shoes are just a requirement not a necessity or passion.

It could also explain the callouses, cracks and rough edges of my feet. After all, they did take a lot of abuse over the years.

Those first few weeks of shoeless freedom were not always the most comfortable. While walking in the grass was soft, I also went barefoot over the gravel, in the barns, pastures and fields. Those areas required a little toughening up of the feet and sometimes they would peel and get quite sore before the toughness built up.

Being barefoot also was a hazard. When dad would send me into the pasture to bring the cows in for milking, I had to really watch where I walked. Not just to avoid the warm, squishy cow pies but also the thistles and burr plants that the cows didn't eat. There were many times when I sat with a tweezers removing thorns.

I also enjoyed walking along the lakeshore without shoes. This sometimes resulted in other hazards as I would step on foreign objects such as dead fish and sharp rocks, ending up with a puncture wound or cut. On two occasions I recall noticing a red line inching up my leg, being rushed to the doctor who diagnosed blood poisoning and ordered me to stay off my feet for an extended time.

All these hazards didn't stop me from what I called my freedom to walk freely. There just was nothing that could compare to the feel of warm grass on bare feet, the touch of cool water on toes buried in sand or even the freedom of wiggling your toes and arching your feet without resistance.

I am a little more sensible now about wearing shoes but I still find myself occasionally kicking them off and enjoying nature through the feel of it on my bare feet.