When I first moved up to the Hudson Valley five years ago, I couldn’t wait for summer to arrive for one main reason: I wanted to run around barefoot. In the 1970s, when I was growing up in my small Westchester town, I lived on a dead-end street that was just packed with kids about my age. On summer mornings, I’d meet my girlfriends outside; I remember that we could often guess how warm the day was going to be by the way the pavement felt beneath our feet. We’d spend hours drawing all over the blacktop with colored chalk, creating cartoon characters and making hopscotch boards and holding tournaments; playing kick-ball or kick-the-can with the big kids (I guess I did put my sneakers on for those games); and making macrame anklets to enhance our tanned summer legs. There was a certain pride that went along with having really tough soles by the end of August; if you were one of the kids who could chase a ball or Frisbee onto a gravel driveway, your street cred definitely went up a few notches.
Of course there were the inevitable stubbed toes, blisters, and glass cuts. And I’m sure that I’ll hear from at least one reader who will berate me for advocating the barefoot lifestyle, since it’s not particularly safe or smart; but there you have it.
Nowadays when I go barefoot, it is to simply have a cup of coffee on my front porch or to run out to the driveway to get something out of my car. Once in a while I forgo footwear when I garden or play badminton in the backyard. Having lived in New York City for so many years — where I could never ever consider stepping outside without shoes — barefoot living is still a singular treat for me.
Of course life is much more complicated these days; I almost never see kids playing outside. Perhaps they’re tucked away with their iPods or playing video games or involved in organized sports.
I suppose going shoeless reminds me of the simple pleasures of the summer. But there are lots of amazing ways to while away those long, warm Hudson Valley days. In our Summer Fun cover story, we fill you in on plenty of them. From swimming at a local beach, lake, or water park; to admiring the art at Storm King or the lovely gardens at Stonecrop; to watching horses race at the Goshen Historic Track, or jump at HITS-on-the-Hudson — the Valley offers summertime activities to suit people of every age and interest.
And here’s one more example of a simple summer pleasure that never goes out of style: catching fireflies. Give it a shot — it’s even more fun barefoot.
Enjoy the season.
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Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief