We are just coming down from a beautiful, sunny summer here in Portland. But along with the return of school and pumpkin spiced everything, the rains are back. Luckily, fall is my favorite time of the year, so I welcome the change of season—but I’m sad to say goodbye to summer feet.
You know, summer feet: When your soles harden from climbing trees and playing chase and walking around barefoot. Or maybe it’s been so long since you cultivated your childhood summer feet that you’ve forgotten.
My girls are definitely familiar. But just as their soles have toughened up after a summer of outdoor play, this fall, we bid goodbye to summer feet.
A lifetime of summer feet
Peeper spent every moment she could barefoot. From the very first sunny day when I took off her baby booties and let her feel the grass under her feet, she has lived to go shoeless. (Kiwi, on the other hand, hated the feeling of grass under her. She insisted on shoes outside when she was learning to walk; even before that, she disliked crawling with her hands on the lawn.)
I have given up on trying to keep shoes on 4-year-old Peeper. So while we gardened or sought a cooling breeze this summer, she wandered the yard and the space in front of our house barefoot.
Seeing her pad around with no shoes reminded me of when I was a kid. In elementary school I used to pride myself on my summer feet, which meant I could roam the neighborhood and ride my bike with no shoes on. (It also meant I had to suffer a sterilized needle when my mom dug out splinters. Ouch.)
As Peeper climbed the maple tree in our front yard, her monkey feet curving around the lowest branches as she pulled herself higher, I thought of her little feet when she was born.
I remember hardly bearing to part with her while the nurses bathed her and stamped her itty bitty feet.
I remember playing this little piggy with the smallest toes I had ever seen.
I remember brushing the soles of her feet against my cheek, marveling at how soft her skin was.
Back then those feet had never taken a single step. They had never danced or supported Peeper’s weight or run toward me in excitement. They were brand new.
Little Sister learns to go barefoot
Now that Kiwi is older, she has outgrown her dedication to shoes; now, she barely tolerates anything on her feet in the summer. The first half of our summer camping trip I spent every other sentence telling her to put her shoes back on for goodness sake—and the second half I gave up, accepting that I wouldn’t be able to see her skin under all that grime until we took another dip in the river.
Most days now, it’s too cold to run barefoot outside. We spend more time indoors overall, and when we do go out, Peeper and Kiwi pull on their rain boots. Their summer feet will soften. Once again, I’ll end up nibbling their toes to see them giggle and try not to get kicked in the face when the tickles become too much.
As it turns out, I needn’t worry too much about saying goodbye to summer feet. Yes, my kids have plenty of years ahead to work on those tough callouses and perfect their barefoot walk. But they’re not letting a little cold get in their way: The other day when I planted a section of our yard with butterfly- and bee-friendly plants (getting ready to set up our beehive this spring!!!), Kiwi spent hours outside with me—barefoot.
Maybe I’ll have to start calling summer feet autumn feet instead!