I ran barefoot through the Vischer Ferry Preserve on the south end of Clifton Park today. I would have worn shoes, really, I would have, but I was in a bit of a time crunch and didn’t want to waste the time or gas to stop home before running through the preserve. I had no shorts in my car, so as if I didn’t look enough like Huckleberry Finn in bare feet, I ran in my blue jeans with the bottoms rolled up to keep them from getting too muddy. Goose droppings peppered the northern canal path. I kept a wary eye on the ground and successfully avoided all land mines as far as I could tell. Several goose families hung out on the path. They generally waddled into the water as I ran by. One brave papa goose stayed on the trail to protect the gaggle by hissing at me. I spoke friendly words to him as I passed by, then got the heck out of there as quick as I could.
I ran to the far end of the preserve and made a u-turn. I took some alternative trails on the return trip. Eventually I arrived at a big huge sand pit that looked like the type of place where a person would pretend they never buried a terrible nuclear hazard. Construction vehicles were parked alongside and inside the sand pit. During an unfortunate footstep, I felt multiple small points poke into my foot. As I lifted my foot again, I could feel the points popping back out of my foot. I stopped and turned around to look at what I had stepped on. It was an old, frayed, rusty wire, with many rigid strands pointing upward out of the sand. I decided I wanted away from this area, but the southern trail was all construction-yardy. I recalled from cross-country skiing during the winter that there was a trail to the north. The only way north beyond the pit was to run through the thick weedy woods (not the snowy flat landscape I remembered). Unpleasant as it was, and longer than I expected, I eventually made it to a trail. Shortly thereafter, I felt a speck of itch on the side of my right foot. I reached down and scratched it, but there was nothing there. Then I felt another itch on my left foot. Then I felt severe tingling all over my feet. For a moment I panicked and thought that accute tetanus was gangrening my feet from stepping on the rusty wire. I slowly recognized the distantly familiar feeling of stinging nettles, and my panic subsided. Nettle stings don’t last very long after itching and burning for a few minutes. I quickened my pace. I was running late and I desperately wanted to get home to wash my poor feet. They deserve better than this. I got home, washed and disinfected my feet, had some dinner, and made a quick visit to Urgent Care. The rusty wire was just the poke I needed to remind me to go get a tetanus shot. If anybody should be up-to-date with that particular shot, it’s me.