Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Walking on My Own Floor

Retirement has benefits if you take advantage of it. From spring to late fall I wear simple sandals with firm rubber soles and Velcro straps—so that by now I have stripes of tanned and light skin on my feet where the straps expose or shield skin from the sun. Mine is an informal life so that wearing socks and shoes is an “occasion” usually tied to stress. It’s wonderfully simple to slip on sandals; Velcro provides a rapid, firm fastening. I love Velcro. We owe it to seeds of the kind that move from place to place by hooking on to living things—the burs. The Swiss electrical engineer Georges de Menstral, on a hunting trip in the Alps, noticed them clinging to his clothes and dogs and, curious, creative man, he looked at them under a magnifying glass. Inspiration came. In the 1950s. With the effort of putting on socks and shoes replaced by donning sandals almost without any effort at all—hey, these things become genuine issues with septuagenarians—I oddly lost the sensation of “wearing” shoes. The sensation has become another: “I prefer to walk on my own floor.”

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