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A Barefoot Rhapsody
Contributed by Anonymous on February 5th, 2011

by Jon The Barefoot Pilgrim

Dedicated to all female barefooters who can identify with it.

It's a hot summer afternoon in Oxford, the temperature has reached 91 degrees which makes it the hottest day of the year so far. You emerge in the distance from the far side of Radcliffe Square cutting a unique figure which instantly catches my attention. You're a petite student girl of around 21 years old, slowly meandering beneath the eminent domes and spires. You stand about 5' 3" in height with a wild mane of auburn hair and a white flower placed in it. Around your neck hangs a loose garland of daisies recently picked in the university parks. In one hand you are carrying a brown course book.

First I notice your full length milkmaid dress. It is pale green in colour with the ruffled hemline sweeping along the ground half a pace behind each footstep in petticoat like waves. As you walk it undulates in a rhythmic dance interspersed by tautness in places as your ankles demand forward motion of it. Now as you approach closer I continue to observe you in an idle study. On the pale flesh beneath your collarbone is a striking, dark brown henna tattoo in the form of a pentagram, a symbol of nature spirituality. You cut a beautiful figure, yet radically different to the other girls around town. Obviously you are no follower of the fashions at present popular among young women, one might even call your look slightly eccentric. Personally, I applaud you for choosing to be different from the crowd which demonstrates intelligence over mindlessness. Beauty and intelligence are your watchwords. You appear completely relaxed, your gentle walking movements being almost set to slow music. This graceful manner contrasts starkly to that of the other people dashing around busily pursuing their affairs.

I look to your feet and assume you must be wearing thin flip-flops or Indian cowhide sandals probably obscured by the large ruffle as it sways along, My attention is now more focused. Closer yet, I still can't see any footwear, where is it? Now I'm really curious. A sudden realisation jolts trough my brain, “She's BAREFOOT!” Of course! This is why your body language was so different when I saw you across the other side of the square. It makes you someone special in my book; a rare and beautiful creature who dares to defy conformist humbug in order to express your own spirit. In your eyes fashionable flip-flops and absurd platforms are to be eschewed as both dangerous and unnecessary. After all what is a sandal but a sole and a few straps to hold it on? Why bother with overpriced fig leaves to placate convention when one can experience the far greater pleasure of having bare soles in direct contact with ground. It also doesn't cost anything either which makes it the world's cheapest, yet most elegant fashion accessory. It makes SO much sense!

As you pass slowly in front of me, one small, happily bare, foot emerges from under the dancing ruffle to reveal nearly its full length. I sit fascinated, admiring its ascetic beauty, its smallness and appallingly dirty condition. A large blotch of dark grime has been ingrained on its upper part by the constant wiping action of the dust-laden hem sweeping over it. The toes, though slightly short, are perfectly formed, free from nail polish and a little splayed as is natural from years of freedom. The black street dust has risen up between the big toe and the next one fanning out above the area where they join. All of the toes in general have been given a liberal coating of the ubiquitous black powder. When you step forward, they splay out on the paving slab, lifting from it very softly as if giving it a tiny kiss.

My gaze turns upwards to your face. It is attractive though not in an artificial way. The cheekbones are high and well defined but any hint of severity is dissolved by a kind mouth and eyes which smile. One might describe your face as pretty in an earthy, real kind of attractiveness. Your expression is so far away. Are you pondering future exams or indulging thoughts of sweet romance? Or are you enjoying this moment, spreading those dusty toes as you step gently on the sun-warmed slabs?  Your hair is a wild mountain of chaotic, auburn locks cascading to your waist in a torrent of untamed beauty; handiwork uniquely crafted by mother Nature's own genius to perfectly compliment your barefoot lifestyle. Often in its unruliness, it partly falls over your face obscuring one eye and is quickly brushed clear by a sweep of your fingers. The white flower nestles on the upper right side of your head to symbolise your love of nature. The bloom is a rose, which though made of trimmed cloth appears totally authentic in every respect.

The tiered cotton dress is of the early 1970's , yet rendered timeless by the swish of its own undulations syncopating with those of your female curves. Its your favourite dress, purchased as a lucky find in a charity shop some years ago. You chose it because it's sensuous, made of the lightest Indian cotton, yet in no way lewd or tasteless. Now it's showing signs of wear with threadbare parts around the hem and the stitching coming apart in places. In some ways though this only serves to add to its charm. Its such a special dress that you lovingly repair it and have vowed to wear it until it falls to bits. The true essence of your uncommon beauty is the alchemy of all these things; your hair, smile, magic dress and body language all woven into living poetry by the catalyst of your barefootedness.

Now you are ahead of me the lilt of your dresses lower ruffle reveals two small, very black soles ingrained with the graphite-like summer dust. As if to pick up on my thoughts you pause and raise one foot behind you to check its colour. The folds of soiled Indian cotton fall away to reveal a truly filthy foot. You look at its sole over your shoulder and giggle to yourself in amusement and satisfaction.  Your heart beats faster, the combination of bare feet and hot sunshine becoming ever more intoxicating as you walk along. Mmmmm, the pavements heat feels so blessedly delicious that you're transported entirely beyond the cares of this world into a heady place of rapture. Your being inwardly revels in the sheer bliss of caressing creation with each filthy sole gently placed on the hot ground. A caress which is reciprocated as the sun's heat is conducted upwards from the pavement, back through those same soles saturating your body with its energy. A feeling of great gratitude flows though you for this interplay of the spiritual and the sensual. Waves of relief and tranquillity lap over your mind, you are filled with gladness simply to be the person you are at this moment in time. You close your eyes and look upwards to the sun feeling its life-giving radiance beat upon your face. The moments pure joy is overwhelming and spontaneously you twirl round twice in celebration giving thanks to the universe for its abundance. The dresses fullness billows out to its full extent, tourists stare in wonderment but you are oblivious to their existence.Laughing you enter the huge iron gate of All Soul's College. An enormous ornate sundial dominates the North wall of the quadrangle throwing its shadow across arcane numerals. I take a final, farewell look at you beautiful, barefoot student. You're now walking over the cool flagstones of an ancient cloister chatting animatedly to a female college acquaintance.

Soon those summer feet are hidden from view by a low wall yet as always your body continues to undulate with the same lilting poetry. It's clear to all who have eyes to see that you are a true barefooter and I wish you much luck in my heart. I asked a college porter if he knew your name and he said it was ASTRID.

Jon The Barefoot Pilgrim        barefootmystic@hotmail.com

A Barefoot Rhapsody
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Re: A Barefoot Rhapsody (Score: 0)
by Plum on Monday, August 15 @ 14:06:25 UTC
(User Info )
Wow. Reading this made my entire being sing! It is obvious you know the absolute joy of being barefoot! I want to run outside through the grass... so, bye!! :)

Being barefoot or having sandals is the best (Score: 0)
by JUkebox Hero Hippie Boy on Monday, August 29 @ 07:53:57 UTC
(User Info )
Why should you waste money finding the best shoes for your feet. This is the horrors of materialism.
But the thing is i would love to be barefoot in public especially school. That would be awesome.

Re: A Barefoot Rhapsody (Score: 0)
by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 04 @ 20:31:52 UTC
What an absolutely beautiful peice. Wonderfully written and sufficiently inspiring.

Re: A Barefoot Rhapsody (Score: 0)
by roses in the rain on Monday, January 09 @ 06:26:31 UTC
(User Info )
this is beauty itself.

Re: A Barefoot Rhapsody (Score: 0)
by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12 @ 04:38:39 UTC
Lovely.  I find that going barefoot keeps me more aware of where I am, more grounded, rooted, connected.  I can run faster barefoot than in sandals that are always falling off, climb better than in sandals or most boots or sneakers, as my toes can grasp more securely and feel if a hold is secure or not.

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