Thursday, September 12, 2019

Barefoot Blues

One recent morning, I headed out to the dwindling garden to pick a few carrots for the kids’ lunchboxes and gasped when my bare feet hit the grass. Yes, fall color has been creeping steadily into the landscape and the sun is slower to rise these days – and slower to warm the air – but I was not prepared for the sharp cold of dewy grass on bare toes.

Bye-bye, bare toes.
I love the changing colors of fall, that slow fade to gold and ochre that precedes the brightening of hillsides to brilliant orange and blazing red. I welcome the crispness of the morning air and the season’s apples. I don’t begrudge having to don a cozy sweater during the chillier evenings.

But I am loath to give up bare feet and flipflops.

Leaving the shoes behind is one of the first joys of spring, when the days are finally warm enough to eschew socks and sneakers for sandals and bare toes – no more hauling out the boots to pull over thick socks before making even the quickest of trips outside.

Gradually, as the days lengthen, barefoot becomes the norm around our house – and beyond. There is barefoot gardening, along with barefoot soccer in the yard, barefoot walks along the river, and barefoot balancing on the slackline. Most trips beyond the house – other than hiking and biking outings – require only a quick slide into flipflops. Our formerly winter-white feet become tough and tan. Our toes revel in the feel of rough sand and smooth grass. Barefootedness is one of the best parts of summer.

I know, of course, that summer is nearly over now. Although the calendar gives us about another week of this season before it is officially fall, summer always feels as though it’s ended when the kids go back to school. They’ve just finished week three of the new school year, so I’ve mostly waved goodbye to the warmest season.

I’ve come to terms with the school backpacks hanging in their regular spots and with afternoon homework help. I’ve started to get used to the morning rush of breakfast and packing lunches and getting everyone out the door before they’ve fully roused from the previous night’s sleep. I’ve even found some happiness in pulling on jeans for the first time in months and cozying into flannel and fleece.

But giving up the bare feet and flipflops feels like letting go of the last little bit of summer’s freedom, and that is a hard thing to do. I guess you could say have cold feet – in more ways than one – about the next season, lovely though it may be.

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, posted to her blog, Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the September 13, 2019 issue of the Littleton Record.