Barefoot in the park? Not in the South.

Southerners are often portrayed barefoot in movies, books, artwork and even song lyrics. I’m sure Tom Sawyer shucked his shoes at every opportunity, Daisy Mae trotted about Dogpatch unshod, and Ellie Mae Clampett and her granny had no need for shoes before moving to Beverly. Hills that is.

But the reality is that walking barefoot across even the most manicured of lawns down South requires shoes. This is because of the centipede grass grown here. It’s also known as “lazy man’s grass” since it requires so little maintenance. St. centipedegrassAugustine is a closely related species that is also widely grown in the South.  Centipede and St. Augustine grasses are coarse and spread by spikey stolons that creep horizontally. centvsaugust

Walking on centipede grass is much like walking on a bed of pins and needles. It actually crunches under your feet, a characteristic that only worsens during dry spells.

We don’t catch fireflies, play ball or run through the lawn sprinkler down here in our bare feet. And forget any romantic notions of a nap on a riverbank, a picnic in the park, or a sunbath in the backyard unless you have a blanket under you.

Up north, I could walk, sit and lie in the grass comfortably all summer. The grass grown up north is soft, thick and plush. It feels good on your bare feet, like a lush-piled carpet. That type of grass is also grown here in the South. On the golf courses.

There’s another pesky reason we don’t walk around barefoot in the South, and it’s likely that every Southerner reading this knows what I’m talking about. I’ll tackle that topic in a future post.

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