One of the greatest “little” joys in cottage life or gardening, is the ability to walk barefoot throughout your property. Whether our happy-feet are skimming across sun-baked stones along the shoreline or across the mossy velvet of our lawns; nothing can compare to the exhilarating and “freeing” feeling that “going barefoot” gives you.
Going barefoot reacquaints you with a sense of carefree youthfulness and simple joy. To me, the gentle sound of the crunching leaves and the feeling of earth beneath my toes wash away the tensions and hostilities of urban day to day life.
“Healthy feet can hear the very heart of Mother Earth” …proverb of Sitting Bull
As a friend of mine proudly states each summer as she proudly flutters barefoot at her cottage; “going barefoot is the ultimate relaxation method. What you feel with your feet is as far removed from you brain as possible – making you concentrate on your body – your environment – and all of your senses.” My belief is simpler:
1. It feels good
2. It’s relaxing
3. It connects you with nature
4. It’s fun
The Barefoot Garden Designed by Sarah Eberle
However, before you begin to randomly shed your shoes, make sure
That you closely inspect your property and avoid the following:
1. Beware sharp edged Reed grass – they have a tendency to “bite”.
2. Inspect your patio, barbeque and dock areas for broken glass, metal objects and litter.
3. Always step straight down. Avoid shuffling, dragging or kicking your feet and legs.
4. Always watch where you step.
5. Place your weight on the balls of your feet and not on your heel.
Another grace of going barefoot at your cottage is its minimum impact upon nature. Whereas a booted foot on our trails and naturalized areas encourages erosion and “imprinting”, a bare foot leaves no mark or effect. Thus, while you are enjoying the sensation of the earth, grass, moss, and pine needles between your toes, you are at the same time preserving your piece of Nature.
Another offshoot of “going barefoot” at the cottage is its ability to encourage everyone who visits your cottage to be aware of their actions. Going barefoot quickly eliminates any “litter-bug” tendencies in not only yourself but in your guests.
Come Spring planting make sure to consider your feet when selecting your plants. Try planting a foot-friendly ground cover such as Anthemis (Chamomile). This wondrous plant can establish itself in any soil condition, gives off a delicious subtle fragrance, can be walked upon and has a lovely delicate blossom. Try A. nobilis for its white blossoms and silvered foliage or A. nobilis treneague for its strong aroma and durability. Just remember only to walk on it in your bare feet so as not to disturb its root structure.
Moss is another consideration. Encourage moss to grow across and amongst all of your rocks and woody areas. This can be achieved by simply spreading moss seeds on to the rocks in a mixture of 1-part moss seeds and 2 parts Buttermilk. Remember to continue drizzling buttermilk across the moss until it has become firmly established.
For your pathways, consider using your natural pine needles. This environmentally sound choice not only looks great, it is easy to do and feels great on your feet.
Some other practicalities of going barefoot at the cottage include:
1. Set up “Rinsing Stations” for bare feet. Simply take an oversized wide mouth
galvanized container and fill it with fresh lake water each day.
Place one near your cottage and another near your dock.
2. Always keep on hand near the cottage “rinsing station” a bar of gardener’s soap.
Gardener’s soap will not only deeply cleanse, it moisturizes and exfoliates as well.
3. Make sure to stock a jar of Gardener’s Hand Lotion each summer.
It’s mixture of beeswax; glycerin, lanolin, aloe and vitamin E will insure “happy feet”.
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