I am a collector of shoes. While I don’t quite rival Imelda Marcos, I do have more than my fair share of pumps and sneakers and boots and sandals. Sometimes I wonder if I enjoy shoes as much as I do because I had so few as a child. Back then I usually owned a pair of sensible school shoes and some cute flats for wearing to church and special occasions. In the summer I simply ran around in my bare feet. I wore my footwear until I either out grew them or they wore out. As an adult, my feet no longer change their size and so began my accumulation of a multitude of colors and styles.
I’m a sucker for shoe stores and big sales on the latest trends in footwear. I find excuses for owning just one more pair of winter boots, even though it rarely gets very cold around here. In fact, as soon as the temperature brings a tiny chill, all of the ladies bring out the boots that tend to last forever because it is so rare to have the proper conditions for wearing them.
Sadly I can no longer wear really high heels or shoes with pointy toes. My feet will be crying for mercy within an hour or so and I’ll be walking in my bare feet just to be able to still walk. Really flat soles are not good for me either. Still, I manage to find some cute shoes that have both style and comfort after I try on about a twenty pairs.
Ironically you’d think that I am a shoe fashionista, but my all time favorite shoes are shockingly practical. I purchased them in a hardware store in Boerne, Texas when I was on vacation. They were the kind I had often dreamed of owning. You’ve no doubt seen the style before on farmers and others who labor in the mud and muck. I’m talking about a pair of black rubber boots that fit just past the top of my calves. They are made from thick ebony colored rubber like you might expect to find on tires. There is nothing glamorous about them, but I absolutely adore them!
I have a variety of hobbies including writing, reading, taking continuing education classes, and gardening. When I put on those boots I know that I am going to have a great day in my yard. I can haul and spread dirt, repot favorite plants, trudge through mud, and even reroute water that is flooding a section of my property. I feel like my grandmother Minnie who would deck herself out in denim overalls, a flannel shirt, a straw hat, and black rubber boots to tackle the planting and harvesting of the crops on her farm. Best of all I can simply run my boots under a stream of water from the hose to get them as clean as if they were new.
I know lots of women get really cute rubber boots with patterns of little ducks or flowers or some such thing, but I want the black ones that show how serious I am about the work that I do when I garden. It’s not a task for the weak of heart. I get dirt under my fingernails and sweat on my neck. Best of all I feel born again and as though the little cells of serotonin are having a happy party in my brain.
I don’t know if it’s genetic or if I simply love working outside with my plants because it reminds me so much of my fabulous grandmother. My thumb is not nearly as green as hers was, but I do a better than middling job of keeping the landscape looking rather lovely. I think that I would really miss the workout that I get planting and weeding if I were ever to become too feeble to continue my labor.
My grandmother kept up her yard even after she was diagnosed with cancer. She moved to a home close to the Medical Center in Houston and used the months when she was still okay to turn it into a paradise even though she was eighty eight years old. It must have been horrific for her when she finally lacked the strength to enjoy her favorite pastime. I suppose that is when she realized that her time on this earth was coming to an end.
I’ve had my black rubber boots for decades now. You would never know how old they are or how much of a workout I have given them. They sit in my garage faithfully waiting until I need them, and even though they are inanimate I hope they know how much I like them.
I’ve never again seen a pair of heavy duty black rubber work boots in a size small enough to fit my feet. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to them. I suppose I’d have to go to the Internet to find another pair. For now, they are just fine and will always be my favorite pair of shoes.