In the Fall, the summer winds would quickly cool and sharpen, ripping into your cheeks on your way home from class, leaving them red and finely shredded, like you’d just applied blush with sandpaper.
In the Winter, the roads and sidewalks would be covered in piles of wet slush, little bombs of slippery ice-dirt and road salt that would explode onto your pants and shoes and leave nasty stains when they dried.
In the Spring the snow would melt away, leaving soggy grass everywhere. You would see that grass and think it was pretty solid, but your foot would just sink into it, cold little mud bubbles rising around your shoe from all directions and soaking right into your sock. It felt like you were walking on a peat bog covered in smushed worms and last year’s dog poo.
No, it wasn’t pretty.
My roommates and I were left with just two choices:
- Try to predict and adjust for the weather. You know, wear lots of layers, carry umbrellas on sunny days, build a collection of waterproof boots, and start using phrases like “bunker in” and “venture out.”
- Ignore it completely.
Well, we chose to ignore it. And we faced the consequences, let me tell you.
We got wind burn and had sleet slip down the back of our T-shirts. We would get massive dirt soakers and permanently stretch our socks peeling them off our feet at the front of our door. We got dry legs, we got bone chill, and brother, we got rain hair bad.
And eventually, we got good at ignoring it all.
My roommate Dee was the master of ignoring the weather, the biggest proof being that he wore sandals year round. Wind, snow, rain, it didn’t matter. “The toes need to breathe,” he’d say sternly, “breathe.” And he’d emphasize the point with a sturdy lip and a firm strapping of the Velcro. Then he’d slap on his heavy backpack, give you a wink, and trudge out into a blizzard, navigating ice patches and slush piles like a pro.
Sure, there was the occasional Bad Day that came with being chronically unprepared for Mother Nature’s worst blows, generally involving a dirty-puddle splashing all over your feet from a passing truck or maybe being unable to feel your toes until you put them in the toaster oven for twenty minutes. But we made it through.
And come on, there is something really nice about wearing sandals when you shouldn’t be wearing sandals. It’s liberation from shoe shackles, freedom from the oppressing sock, and a violent rebellion against those frostbite warnings on the weather channel.
People of the world, let’s face it: if we can come together to take down the shoe then really, nothing can stop us.
I will be speaking at the Northwoods Muskoka Literary Festival this Friday in beautiful Huntsville, Ontario. Hope to see you there and see details on the festival here!