I am trying to remember this morning what it felt like to walk barefoot along the rambling paths of those childhood pastures in Todd County. I remember how wonderfully soft and comfortingly warm the layer of dust felt against the bottom of my feet. As I stepped along slowly with no particular need to be at the next place at a particular time, the powder of the path would puff out around my feet and between my toes. I felt like a god seeing those tiny clouds around my feet. It was like walking in talcum during those dry weeks.
When the rains came, the paths turned to mud and I would walk in the grass, staying close to the path but avoiding the mess. Usually.
Sometimes with the mind of a nine-year-old I would deliberately walk in the mud. It was a different feel, not the warm comfort of the dust but a different kind of sensuousness. I would sometimes stop and take one deliberate step at a time, looking down to watch the miry mix squish up between my toes. I would walk slowly, lifting my feet gently, seeing how much mud I could keep on my feet. In this recollection of reflection, it seems like I would get five pounds on each foot.
At the creek, then, I would stand on the rocks and swirl each foot in the water, washing away as much of the mud as I could. After the clumps were gone I would then bend over and use my hands, rubbing between my toes until finally every trace of mud was gone, the flowing water taking away my stain. I stood in the stream, clean and pure.
Until I stepped back off of the rocks.