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Bare Feet Weather-A Vermont Thing

Anna and her sister Emily, enjoying Bare Feet Weather years ago
Bare Feet Weather
Written by Anna Goodling-who left the farm in Vermont, to go to college in Michigan. 
I never wear shoes at home. It’s not necessary. Here at school, I still do my best not to wear them whenever possible. I have never liked them much. I walk across campus barefoot, carrying my shoes with me in my bag or grasped in hand. When I reach my destination, I put them back on before entering the building. It’s backwards, but somehow the grass is far more welcoming to bare skin than hard tile floors and dirty rugs. Most of my friends have learned to just accept it and stop trying to convert me to the flip-flops-and-tennis-shoes crowd.
My roommate, however, hasn’t known me all that long. The sight of my bare feet is surprising and completely unexpected, and she stops dead in her tracks. “Where are your shoes??” Nikki whispers, cell phone still talking into her left ear.
I shrug. “I left them in our room.”
The person she is talking to apparently asks Nikki who she is whispering to, because she gestures at me as though her phone can see, and exclaims loudly, “Sorry. I just ran into my roommate, and I’m making fun of her because she’s not wearing any shoes!” A pause, and then, “Well I wasn’t going to just shout at her, that’s rude!” She turns back to me, grinning apologetically for the one on the other end of the phone. ”Do you just…like to go barefoot?” she asks, whispering again, holding her phone away from her mouth and eyeing me inquisitively. I nod, and she continues, “Is that a Vermont thing?”
I am taken aback. How to answer? No, it’s not really a Vermont thing. It’s a country thing. It’s a New England farm gal thing. It’s been bred into me from the moment of my first baby steps. It is a way of life. I have never worn shoes when I didn’t have to, and never will. At home, as long as it is over sixty degrees outside, me and my siblings all go unshod. “Bare Feet Weather,” as it has been affectionately called from time immemorial. Just a Vermont thing? Of course not.
But she is on the phone, and we both have studying to do and there is no time to say any of this. So I just shrug. “Um sure, I guess.” Just a Vermont thing.
I can deal with that.


I loved reading Anna’s post on her blog about bare feet! For as long as I can remember, grandparents and friends have tried to put shoes on my children’s feet. To this day, I think my girls would rather be bare foot than in shoes. They grew up with toes exposed for the better part of the year. Only the frigid winter months forced them to don their boots when outside. I had the rule that shoes could be left inside when the outdoor temperatures hit 60 degrees. Many a day, that rule was overlooked as they scampered out to the meadow to play. Though we lived in a very drafty 200 year old house, the cold floors did not even keep them from kicking off their slippers during the winter months. I remember one time, when a grandmother was visiting with us, that she argued to no end with them about keeping on their slippers, until I said, “but feel their feet.” Upon close inspection, and to the amazement of the grandmother, their little piggy toes were just as warm as toast, without their slippers on. And after all, as a child, I remember going bare foot almost all the time too. Shoes seemed confining, restricting, and cumbersome. When wearing shoes, you must always be concerned about getting them soiled, or wet. You must fuss over socks that just want to creep inside your shoes, instead of staying up where they belong. Climbing trees is easier if you can use your toes to grip the bark on the tree trunk. Wading through streams is more pleasant if your feet are not weighted down by your water logged shoes, and on a hot day, if your feet are cool, then the rest of your body feels cool as well.

Friends and family that visited us in Vermont when our children were young, often made comment about their bare toes. Weren’t we afraid of getting a cut on our feet, or stings by insects, thorns, and briers? My girls would shake their heads and say “no thank you,” to shoes. Can you imagine the tragedy of never feeling the prickliness of sticks beneath your feet, the coolness of dew on the grass, the sting of frozen earth and white snow, the bumps and lumps of a dirt road, and the squish of….manure between your toes! Imagine never having to pick the fuzzies out from between your toes, or throw your foot over the edge of the tub to wash away earth’s blackness, or feel the warmth of the woodstove driving the sting of cold from your toes, or sit upon your daddy’s lap while he pull the splinter from your heel! A shear tragedy!!!

I for one will take off my socks today, in remembrance of all those years with toddlers around the house, and revel in the gifts that meet my feet!


2 Responses

  1. Undomiel

    Hurray for bare feet! My friends away at school may laugh at me as much as they like for never wearing shoes – they don’t know what they’re missing! =)

  2. Susan Levings

    Shoes are highly over-rated. Only wear them when necessary. . . .🤗👣👣👣