I spend a good deal of time in the summer walking around barefoot. Not necessarily down the street or even outside of my own yard, but it doesn't occur to me to stop and put on shoes and socks when I am just traipsing around my own house. If I do find myself outside, I think of the time I spent in the mountains of Colorado, wandering to and from the outdoor facilities known as "The Outhouse." This made sense, since the place I spent summers was called "The Cabin," so that literalness was extended to the privy. There was a sense of pride in walking out the path, in the dark, across whatever rocks, pine needles or unidentified pointy objects laid in wait on one's way to do their business.
But this wasn't always the case. When I was very young, I marveled at my older brother's willingness to traipse about the woods without any shoes, even if it was just that short hop to and from the outhouse. I was initially much more timid than my reckless, devil-may-care sibling. I chose, instead, to look for my father's cowboy boots.
They were great, big things, almost always found near the back door. That was the way we went. It wasn't a long walk. Just long enough to be away from the odors associated with outhouses. My feet would swim about inside those boots, clumping along on the brief back porch and then shuffling along the path. If I was in a big hurry, from the immediacy of my needs or the chill in the air, I was kept from running by my borrowed footwear. If a bear showed up, as we often teased one another that it might, I would have been an easy snack. We didn't actually have to worry about predators, but we did have to worry about the threat of imaginary predators, making the trip to and from the outhouse a perilous adventure. In cowboy boots that were five sizes too big.
It didn't matter. I wasn't really wearing the boots to keep my feet dry or warm. I wasn't wearing them to be able to run in the face of hungry predators. I wore them to be closer to my father. That's why he left them at the back door. Just in case we needed him.