Last year, after a particularly snowy winter, I spent most of March counting the days until what I call sandal season: the days of spring and summer when it’s warm enough to walk in sandals rather than socks, shoes, or boots. “After so many months of slipping down sidewalks slabbed with ice and hard-packed snow,” I wrote last year, “it’s a simple luxury to walk unimpeded, shoes feeling carefree after an entire season of hiking boots.”
This winter was mild and virtually devoid of snow, so I can probably count on two hands the number of times I wore weatherproof hiking boots instead of shoes. Still, today marked a happy milestone as J and I took a sunny afternoon walk in shirtsleeves, shorts (for J), and sandals (for me). Last week, my “Frontier in American Literature” students finished discussing Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, which features an old, eccentric hermit named Ivar who goes barefoot year-round, believing (as I’ve noted previously) that “feet are a body part immune to sin and thus safe to indulge in sensuous and sometimes dirty delights.” It cheers me to think that crazy old Ivar felt everyday the uninhibited freedom my feet felt today.