Don't Garden Barefoot!
by Jarad Johnson
I consider myself a generally intelligent person, but on rare (or, according to some, frequent) occasions, my decision-making skills fall short of what most people would call, “smart.” One such occasion occurred last week, when I was sowing seeds in one of my front garden beds. You see, since I was a child, I’ve despised shoes, and when I was very little, I used to run around the yard in nothing but my birthday suit. You can be sure my mom was mortified, and my neighbors were wondering why a naked toddler was screaming and running in circles. But don’t worry, I don’t do that very often anymore, except on the Harvest Moon.
On this occasion, I was clothed, and needed to weed my flower bed before I planted my seeds that (which, along with more weeds, seem to be making a start at coming up from the ground) day. One of my least favorite gardening chores is weeding. Crawling around on hands and knees, in full view of my neighbors, pulling little tiny grass sprouts out of the ground is not my idea of a good time. However, I do have a four-pronged rake, or as it’s known at Home Depot, a, “4-tined cultivator.” Whatever you call it, I use it for evening out garden beds after I remove the sod. It’s also useful for creating rows to plant my corn and sunflowers. I noticed that it also removed surface weeds that had accumulated while I was at school. The front bed was particularly choked with those little invaders. So, I took after them, but on that day I somehow didn’t have the patience to put on shoes. I prefer to be barefoot when I can, and why spend that precious few seconds tying shoelaces when there is garden work to be done?
So, the weeds and I went to war. Clods of dirt flew through the air, weeds and a few unlucky cosmos lay scattered about the yard. It was a horticultural war zone, and I designated the space between the drift rose and the hollyhock (which I am enormously proud of because I grew it from hastily thrown seed last year) as the No Man’s Land. The weeds and I are in a standoff. I’m still not sure who is going to win the war.
However, as I was swinging the garden tool through the air, I had a brief thought that my toes, which I just painted, were perilously close to those tines. As that thought crossed my mind, my cat let out a howl that made me think he was stuck in the tree again, and the tines landed far too near my foot for comfort. This was the first instance where I realized that the momentary discomfort of putting on shoes might actually not be worth the price of a toe. But I was distracted from this very rational thought by the sounds of a cat in distress. After I had established that my cat was fine and just hungry, the work was done. I had forgotten the danger to my feet.
I planted my seeds and was about to plant a few dianthuses, some lilies and a red hot poker (planted for my friend Virginia Woolf), when a violent storm struck just as I put the shovel in the dirt, still barefoot might I add. The wind howled, the lighting lit the sky, and the thunder shook my windows. Literally. Where I live, we’ve had seven tornadoes come down our street in three years, and all of them outstayed their welcome. So, when I say the windows were shaking, I mean it. I left the plants where they were and got my cats inside, even the one that peed on my office chair. Once, during a roaring summer storm, I went out to the shed during a downpour which I was sure was going to be the coming of the second flood, to collect a cat screaming at the top of his lungs at the indignity of walking in the rain by himself. I went back outside to put the pots on the ground and turn over the outdoor furniture.
And guess what? Rescuing cats in a muddy mess of a deluge is not made any easier by the lack of shoes. Now even Mother Nature was trying to tell me to put on some footwear.
So, what is the point of this blog post? First of all, I am beginning to think shoes were invented for a reason. Secondly, I never miss an opportunity to complain about the weather around this place.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!