Friday, April 1 2005
The weather was warm and sunny once again and wintertime problems such as snow and frozen soil had receded enough for me to commence a planned spring drainage project. To alleviate winter ice accumulation on the walkway that connects the driveway to the house, and also to deal with some still-sketchy drainage issues to the northwest of the house, I have decided to dig a fifty foot trench and lay more drainage pipe. The big problem with this plan, though, is that the trench must be placed in soil presently covered with asphalt. I will replace some of this (on the walkway to the driveway) with natural bluestone, but the 35 feet running beneath the driveway (past the two garage doors) will have to be mended with new asphalt.
I found that the asphalt on the path was only about an inch thick and it peeled up easily; I removed it in pieces that were at times nearly a square yard in size. Later, though, as I dug my way out into the driveway, the asphalt tripled in thickness and became about twenty times harder to remove. (The strength of materials evidently increases exponentially with thickness.) I was using a big six foot wrecking bar but my progress quickly slowed from 20 feet per hour to maybe a foot per hour. Worse still, my hands, soft from their winter vacation, were quickly ruined with blisters. I began wondering what it would cost to rent a jackhammer for a day.
Amid the usual tiresome April Foolery I stumbled into a page about the connection between footwear and disease. I'm still not fully convinced that one experiences great health benefits from going barefoot, but the thing that struck me most on this page is that the photos and descriptions of the feet of people who have never worn shoes resemble descriptions of my feet. Everybody who sees my feet tells me they are unusual, creepy, ugly, or look as if they have been created by Maurice Sendak. One prissy young woman who saw my feet when visiting my housemate in Los Angeles reportedly told her friends that she couldn't imagine living (as a housemate) with anyone with feet like mine. But from this page it seems that my feet are the way human feet look when they haven't been badly deformed by shoes. The only toes on my feet that seem to stray from the pattern of the natural foot are my two smallest toes, which are bent in somewhat to keep my shoes from having to be as wide as frying pans.
I've always preferred being barefoot in conditions where this is a reasonably comfortable option (even on rough lava in the Galapagos). And because I spend so much of my life barefoot, the skin on the soles of my feet is tough enough to allow me to be comfortable walking on surfaces most Americans would never attempt to walk on. Today, for example, temperatures were in the fifties and I was ripping up asphalt with a wrecking bar, and it seemed most comfortable to do this work barefoot, even though it meant standing on rough gravel with feet that (with the exception of the Galapagos) had spent the past four months walking only on indoor surfaces. Mind you, I do wear shoes on occasion, particularly outside in the winter time or when I have some place to be. But my feet have experienced such freedom that I'm forced to buy shoes that accommodate them the way they are.
My asphalt project after the easiest part.
Later during the hard part four or five hours later. Notice that the snow has melted a little in the fifty-something-degree weather.
Tulips coming up through the snow.
The feet of someone who has never worn shoes.
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