It was a long standing battle between my grandmother and me whether or not shoes should remain on my feet. In my prairie home flip flops were just for swimming pools; tennis shoes or boots were made for farm feet. Yet, whenever my soul found its way near the soft fertile soils of home, temptation would get the best of me..and I would undoubtedly end up with dirt between my toes.
Basket loaded, shoes on my feet, I head away from the big farmhouse off to the far fields to find my grandfather. Over the dusty roads I ride as fast as my petals can turn..my hair tears free from binding braids as the sun warms my skin. The blue farm truck is spotted just ahead.
I pull up to the truck and climb in the bed..stretching tall I have wildly with hope he sees me from the combine. Standing there my eyes close as I breathe deep the scent of the fields: rich nutrient dense soil, nutty stalks of grain, the heat and oil of massive farm machinery. Breath.
My ears soak up the sound of birds singing from the tree lines..they're just waiting to swoop down on the grain fields. The combine's steady hum; its blades whirl over the stalks. Wind swishes and whirls scattering dust.
Grandpa startles me from my wonder ready for the afternoon snacks I brought. The tailgate is lowered for us to sit together and share jars of iced tea and a melon fresh from the garden. His handy pocket knife swiftly slices the melon as he sends me to the cab of the truck for the pepper shaker. Never in all my days have I ever seen anyone ruin a melon like Grandpa....pepper scatters over his piece of melon like a blanket. My scrunchy expression makes him laugh - puts hair on you chest- well, that settles it for me...I don't want pepper or hair on my chest.
Here in the fields we are free..free to spit melon seeds as far as we can...free to dangle our legs and swing them with reckless delight...free to giggle and chatter in the open prairie. Grandpa's eyes twinkle; his smile as big as the sky...he understands a farm girl.
I shed my shoes hopping down from the tailgate. Jump and run and twirl with delight! Standing at the edge of the field I dig my toes deep into the soft cool earth..soil and sun...and earth between my toes!
To this day I can be found standing at the edge of the fields, shoes left at the gate...a trail of footprints leading to the soft tilled soil. Yes, even now, the temptation over takes me...as my face turns toward the sun, my eyes close. Breathing deep the scents of the farm and listening to the sounds of life...even now, I wiggle deep down and get a good feel of earth between my toes!