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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Barb's Boots Are Made for Walking

This is my last blog here at Squawk. Thanks for making me feel so welcome!

Here is another of my most abiding passions: hiking. And these are my boots. Oh woe is me....look at them! They are very worn out, so cracked that when I wear them on a muddy path, my feet are soaked.

They also stink. I mean really stink. If I have them in my back seat on a sunny day, you will not want to ride with me. It's not that I have such stinky feet, either. It's just that the boots are dead and rotting and I haven't been able to give them up. They're five years old this spring, and I've walked thousands and thousands of miles in them, in five countries, four mountain ranges, and uncountable beaches.

I bought them for $98 on sale at Gart Bros. I hadn't had a pair of official boots for nearly fifteen years, when my first ones, a pair of High Appalachian Ridge Runners--a the time the most expensive thing I ever bought--were stolen out of my college roommate's house. I bought the Salomon's to break them in for a hiking trip in France. I walked all over Pueblo in them breaking them in.

It wasn't enough. I paid the price in blood blisters, but it was still a brilliant trip, and the boots and I became very good friends. I walked them up the Alps and around Paris, and then home again, where I got divorced, and then I wore them to the mountains where I had to sleep in a tent during a drought, alone with coyotes howling, where an Indian elder let me pound his drum--"pound it harder!" he said, and grinned when I did. At night, I heard him playing his flute. I also heard animals scrabbling around right beyond the very thin walls, walls they could simple swipe right open. I survived. My boots walked me home again.

And walked me to a new group of friends and we hiked the Rockies and in the Highlands and all over Colorado Springs. I wore my boots to New Zealand and Victoria and Vancouver and Scotland. Together, we walked through a transition to my new life, and sometimes those boots were all that remained the same. My dog died and I got a new one. I moved from one house to another, one city to another, new friends, new lifestyles, new books. Only my boots were the same.

And now they're dead and I have to put them away. But I can't throw them out. They'll just go in a box and go in my attic and one day, when I'm dead, someone will find them and scratch their heads and say, "why in the world did she keep these dead boots?"

Now I have to go buy new boots. Maybe Salomons, to carry me to new adventures. India, maybe. Definitely Scotland again, and England, and Normandy, and Santa Barbara, where I will find some students/friends to go hiking with me. New adventures, but I'll never forget this particular pair.

Is there a coat or a skirt or some other piece of clothing or jewelry that kept you company through a particular time in your life?
Connie Brockway, 6:52 PM