Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boots at Journey's End

Although the scientists working on the Human Genome Project have yet to make an official announcement, I think it is quite evident that the gene coding for "liking shoes" is to be found on the X chromosome.  Certainly, on average, men care about shoes at a level roughly half that of women.  And there are outliers.  I for instance have managed a degree of affection for exactly one pair of footwear in my imposing span of years.

It was a pair of LaCrosse hiking boots, sold under their "Quad" brand.  I got them on sale at the local outlet store.

Partly it was a matter of them coming to me at the proper time.  I had been working far too long in a practice setting rife with difficult personalities and politics.  In fact, as a precursor to my making a permanent break with the place, I had just announced that I would be taking the month of June off to go have some fun.

This was 8 years ago.  I worked on my tan.  I grew a beard for the first time since a rather unsuccessful college era goatee.  And I pulled on my new boots and went to Alaska.

It was a fun trip, fishing with my oldest son.  And it was the first of many trips.

I found my traveling boots to be equally comfortable on cobblestones and pasture land.  They have carried me to Alaska three times, and have slogged through digging at Vindolanda five times.  I have walked about 40% of the way across England in them.  They were my daily footwear when I worked as a Carny in the Deep South.

In fact, they were so comfortable that I wore them almost every day, setting them aside only for social occasions when the spousal eyebrow was raised above its usual warning level.

Eight years is a long time for boots, the miles do add up.  I have rubbed them with various polishes and oils, and sprayed them lavishly with silicone water repellent.  But eventually they just got too worn out. 

I took them over the pond for one last dig at Vindolanda.  The leather was dull and deeply cracked.  The uppers were starting to separate from the soles, and patching with a product called "Shoe Goo" was unsightly.

But I figured that I owed my old friends this one last trip.

And there they will stay.  Oh, I suppose they ended up in a landfill somewhere in the UK, but I prefer to just imagine that they are on a permanent voyage.

Here is a picture of them on our last night at the Twice Brewed Inn, Northumbria...

I had of course already taken the precaution of ordering another pair of the exact same boot, and have them well on the way to being broken in.  If my estimate of the respective durability of the boots and my body are accurate, this pair should walk me all the way to retirement!

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