Hot Asphalt On A Summer’s Day

Our house on Short Hills Drive in Bath, Ohio had an asphalt driveway.  The driveway ran up a small hill, took a right turn to the garage, and had a big open area at the top of the hill where Mom and Dad had put up a basketball hoop.

On blistering summer days, the sun would heat the asphalt, and you could catch a whiff of tar and feel the heat radiating off the black surface. On those days I liked to walk barefoot on the driveway, to take in the smell and the scorching heat and see how long my feet could stand it. It’s one of those things that will always mean “summer” to me.

I was reminded of this today as I was out walking to do a few errands. It was hot and the sun was shining brightly.  As I walked I passed a freshly paved asphalt parking lot, smelled that smell, and felt that heat, and the sensory experiences brought it all back. I started to think about how much I enjoyed walking barefoot on hot asphalt, and how I hadn’t done it in years.  So when I got closer to home, and I passed an empty parking lot that was ablaze in the sunshine, I couldn’t resist. I took off my sneakers and socks and set out across the lot, feeling the burn on the soles of my feet.

My feet aren’t as tough and calloused as they used to be, and after a few laps around the tarry surface I was ready to step off and put my shoes back on. But my little barefoot exercise felt good. In fact, it felt exactly like summer.


IMG_4726When I was walking in to work yesterday morning, with the temperature at a brisk 10 degrees Fahrenheit, I noticed apparent barefoot marks on the new-fallen snow.  Could someone please reassure me that there is athletic footwear that cleverly leaves the imprint of a human foot?  I’d hate to think that some poor wretch was outside running barefoot down Third Street on a cold winter’s morning.


‘Tis the season to shed your shoes, let your toes wriggle and your soles roughen, and walk barefoot.  Whether the footing is grass, sand, or asphalt, it turns out that walking barefoot is healthy — and it feels good.

I think letting your feet feel the cool of the grass and the heat of the sand helps to bring home the fact of summer, but it turns out that the act of walking barefoot has other benefits.  Brain researchers believe that walking barefoot helps to maintain the nerve connections sharp and therefore enhances balance as people age.  If your feet are more sensitive, you will be less likely to stumble and fall.

So, discard those shoes and socks.  Go bare, America!