Over at the ever-inspiring Root Simple, there’s a great post extolling the virtues of going barefoot. Mrs. Homegrown, aka Kelly Coyne, decries the way we force our feet into little hard boxes instead of letting them directly mediate the surface below.
She offers steps for learning “fox walking.” It’s a form of mindful walking where your feet become your antennae.
I have a friend who does this intuitively. Recently when she and I picked strawberries together, she kicked off her shoes to navigate the strawberry patch–which was a veritable thicket of growth, with thistles poking up here and there. I did not join her in shoelessness, but I admired her mindful treading.
Here’s beloved poet Mary Oliver taking it even further:
Deep in the woods, I tried walking on all fours. I did it for an hour or so, through thickets, across a field, down to a cranberry bog. I don’t think anyone saw me! At the end, I was exhausted and sore, but I had seen the world from the level of the grasses, the first bursting growth of trees, declivities, lumps, slopes, rivulets, gashes, open spaces.
I was some slow old fox, wandering, breathing, hitching along, lying down finally at the edge of the bog, under the swirling rickrack of the trees.
—From “Staying Alive” in Blue Pastures
The swirling rickrack of the trees. I just love her.
I’m off for a much-needed woods ramble. My head is full of worries about desertification, GMOs, and the destruction of carbon sequestering peat bogs in Ireland. I need to step away and touch the earth.
Perhaps I will shuck my shoes. And if you see someone on her hands and knees, just blow a kiss and keep going.