Well beyond midlife, at this uncertain age of remembering, so much of my past arises unbidden. Boyhood summers barefoot, reconnecting me to the primal happy time of the early years living on the beach in Hawai’i. No shoes, just brown feet, and so coconut palms become the Tree of Paradise. Body memory, still there in my wide feet, nice spaces between the toes.

But here, now, a hot summer.

Dry, very dry this season in these Finger Lakes, following a low snow winter and dry spring. Our land a thick deposit of river remnant from so long before, now powdery dry many feet down. I walk this footprint of an ancestral Salmon Creek. In early June, with the bright promise of so much summer to come, I start moving and working barefoot in the play space that is our sprawling garden, so brimming with diverse life. Slowly my feet recover their happiness, toughen so I can walk on the gravel paths, the dirt and mulch between the raised beds, through plants spilling out in all directions. A garden not conventionally pretty, messy some would say, or confusing. I love its profusion, standing to gaze with the strong mid afternoon sun on my back. The asparagus grow to preposterous heights, cucumbers stretch to grab them and climb to the light. A vibrant garden in the tradition of Japanese natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka.

Nearing the middle of August, summer is becoming old. Maple leaves are a dark tired green in this transition time to the colors emerging. I feel I have raced through these weeks, busy with my tasks. Now, wait! I take moments to pause, savor, just abide in the presence of all this life buzzing whirring shimmering around me, feet alive, sensing the hard dry ground, the thirsty grass. A taste of boyhood summers of grass blackened feet.

Gradually welcome moist dews return. My wife observes I bring morning wet leaf bits into the house. Oh well, the daily swims in Cayuga Lake will tidy me up. Hot sweet summer!

3 thoughts on “Barefoot by Philip Snyder

  1. Nice imagery. It starts out with a reference to your feet and they are mentioned again, but the story is more about your garden. This is not a criticism, but a comment.

  2. I really enjoyed this but I would have liked to have folllowed the bare feet through the bootstrapped winter. Really enjoyed the imagery.

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