I don’t know why self-portraits focus almost exclusively on one’s face given the fact that you can typically learn so much more about a person by looking at their other parts. When I saw The Hours and was initially skeptical about Nicole Kidman playing the part of Virginia Woolf, what won me over wasn’t the much-hyped prosthetic nose that Kidman donned: it was the fact that in various scenes of Woolf smoking cigarettes, Kidman had ink-stained fingers. Of course Woolf would have had ink on her fingers: she was a writer in an era of fountain pens. Show me a delicate, fine-boned, but stained hand, and I’ll show you a writer, down and dirty.

It’s not like I like having dirty feet…but I love being barefoot, wearing sandals, and hiking. When I was in college, I sometimes hiked barefoot, believing along with crazy old Ivar, the Norwegian hermit in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, that feet are a body part immune to sin and thus safe to indulge in sensuous and sometimes dirty delights. When I spent a week hiking in California’s Marin County several years ago, I took only one pair of shoes: a pair of generic sport sandals which I literally walked to pieces, coming home with distinct tan-lines where the straps had been. These days, I’ve acquired more expensive tastes in sandals, wearing my Keen Montereys so often I’m acquiring a fisherman’s tan with square patches of brown on my insteps and walking right through mud puddles and streams when I hike in my Keen Newport H2s.

So, there you have it. I’m a girl who likes expensive shoes as long as they, like me, aren’t afraid of a little mud and muck. When people say I’m “grounded” and “down to earth,” they sometimes don’t realize that those qualities go down to my toes.

    Although it may be true that the devil wears Prada, the Zen Mama wears Keens: when I’m not wearing either of my two pairs of outdoorsy sandals, I’m stomping around in a pair of Bronx. Yes, it’s keen to wear Keens in Keene…and when you’re a sometimes-klutzy Zen Mama, it’s cool to wear shoes and sandals with a sturdy rubber toeguard.

    This is my sixth submission for the current self-portrait marathon. You can see my previous attempts here, here, here, here, and here; a gallery of other self-portraits here; and a slide-show of participant portraits here.

    And while you’re clicking around the blogosphere, be sure to check out my most recent contribution to Area 603 as well as the inaugural installment of the Festival of Trees. Enjoy!