Stewardship of Life

These Old Boots

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on February 10, 2010

You might not think it to look at them, but these boots are among my favorite things. I bought them at an L.L. Bean Outlet store in Maryland almost a decade ago. They were just under $20, the largest children’s size, fully lined, and a perfect fit. Having just moved from Tennessee to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I needed snow boots. As a monetarily-challenged seminarian, I also needed cheap snow boots that would last. I got much more than I bargained for with these lavender lovelies.

Sure, I took some ribbing about my rather unusual choice in winter footwear, but no amount of teasing could surpass the comfort, warmth, and reliability of those bargain boots. They provided excellent service through three Pennsylvania winters.

After three and a half years and a move to upstate New York for internship, I finally caved under pressure and bought sturdy and stately Columbia winter snow boots. Even on sale, they were triple the price of my trusty purple pair. They were no warmer, they were shorter, and they were heavier. Yes, they looked new and proper, but for all their social acceptability they lacked the carefree spirit of their predecessors. I found that I wore them far less often and was easily annoyed by having to lace them. When we moved to North Dakota, there was no question that the purple boots would come along for the ride.

My precious purple boots proved to be a worthy match for any snow that blew across the prairie. Warm enough to walk four blocks to the Post Office in sub-zero weather and cool enough to mortally embarrass my teenage daughter, my boots continued to wear well while the stalwart Columbia competitors languished in the closet.

Finally, after about six years of dedicated service, the rubber on my favorite boots began to crack, letting water seep through. I was horrified. How would I ever replace my favorite boots? They had become a trademark of sorts.  One doesn’t often see middle-aged women tromping forth to church in foot-high snow shod in purple children’s snow boots.  Fortunately, the solution was as simple as a roll of duct tape. Now, not only were my purple boots still thoroughly functional, they were also even more unique with their ring of silvery tape.

Almost 10 years have passed since the day I purchased them, and the boots are going strong. I still reach for them often, and I’d say my cost per wear is now less than a penny. They do a better job of keeping my feet warm than my expensive down ski gloves do of keeping my fingers toasty. Realistically these boots may have another 10 years of life in them. Like their owner, they’ll probably add a little more silver each year. Mine will be in the form of a few more gray hairs; for my boots it will be another strip or two of duct tape. I only hope that I age as well, as practically, and as gracefully as these beloved purple boots.

Oh, by the way, since I haven’t worn my Columbia boots at all this winter, they’ll be sporting a price tag at the next yard sale. Maybe someone else will find them useful. As for me, I shall wear purple…boots that is.

What about you? Do you have a tale of a treasured belonging that’s not only been a good value but also a useful addition to your life? I’d love to hear from you!

4 Responses to 'These Old Boots'

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  1. kristin said,

    Those are great boots and well-loved (like the Velveteen rabbit?) And to boot (harhar), I’d bet that LL Bean would replace them!

  2. Robert Charles said,

    My first guitar is a Yamaha FG170 dating back to 1974.Like an old friend, it’s been with me all these years. The joy and the sorrows and all the crazy times in between. Over the years it’s accumulated dings, nicks and scratches, kind of like me. And the years have deepened and mellowed its temperament, just like me. We will grow old together.

  3. Matthew Schuster said,

    For me it’s my American-made RedWing hiking boots. They were very expensive when I purchased them new almost twenty years ago, but they have proven themselves worth every penny. The boots are utterly waterproof all the way up to their tops, and are the warmest footwear I have ever owned. Even when hunting from a treestand for more than six hours in twenty-five degree weather, I still need only a single pair of regular-thickness cotton socks. The boots provide outstanding ankle support when hiking, and I can climb over rocks for hours without significant fatigue to my feet and knees. Truly the best investment I’ve made, bar none. Won’t part with them for any money, and I feel confident that I can rely on them for many more years.

  4. Grow closet said,

    Wonderful post – I was heading for a similar article which I will probably still take a shot at, but from a slightly different angle. Thanks for sharing this with your readers…Obviously a lot of others appreciate it too!

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