I can list the countries I’ve worn them in. Their tread has spanned the globe touching multiple continents. They have a magnificent history. Long hours on my feet. Sometimes wet. Sometimes dusty and dry. Always comfortable.
I remember being extremely grateful I was wearing them as I waded further and further into a flooded jungle in southern Thailand. They provided reassurance against the creepy (swimming) crawlies I couldn’t see.
They were on my feet as I traversed New Zealand’s South Island and hiked J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Mt. Doom” on the North Island. They helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Hiking in the Grand Canyon? Yup. Walking in Hawaii? There too. Strolling the streets of Paris? Sure.
They helped me till my garden, check the beehives, and carry my kids through the fall leaves and winter snow. Like no other item I wear, or even own for that matter, my boots are a part of me. Not just because they’re comfortable but because of the millions of little moments they have framed.
I should have seen their demise laid out before me. I walked two miles yesterday on flat terrain and got my first blister in nine years. Today, as I hiked to the top of Burnt Mountain in Stratton, ME, my boots started to give up the ghost. The sole (soul?) just in front of my right big toe tore a tiny bit and started to catch on rocks. Twenty five minutes later the tear was a split. I started changing my gait for fear of the split becoming the end.
That is it though, isn’t it? Like all things, my boots will come to an end. On this Wilderness Family Learning Center parents and kids are touching on just that thought. How do I let go of something I love? Right now, for me, it is boots with a wonderful history of memories. For some of the participants I am with the letting go is larger: letting go of children and seeing them as adults. Letting go of a parent’s protection because you know it is time to stand on your own two feet. Letting go of the status quo to rock the boat and hope for growth and change.
I love these boots. They have served their time and provided a wealth of memories and for that I am grateful. Perhaps I will get some ‘shoe-gu’ and keep them alive. Or maybe I’ll just strike out looking to collect my memories and defining moments in another set of boots.