News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

September 7, 2009

The Off Season: A pair of boots worn well…

It was on a breezy Saturday morning trip through our barn’s double doors that I happened to notice a pair of my old work boots in the trash barrel we keep there. It is in that place that much of what we have worn out or used up ends, just junk taking a last bow before meeting up with landfill dirt.

I had tossed the boots into a garage trash can at the beginning of the summer, an ungrateful end for something I had worn so often for close to 15 years, through winter snows and early spring heat, in wet weather and through the dust of many an Indian summer day. My wife picked them out of the can and brought them to me as I finished trimming a little patch of grass near the house.

“Sure you want to get rid of these?” she asked me, holding them up and away from herself because there was hardly a clean spot on them.

“Oh, I think so. They’re just so worn out, I don’t think I can wear them to do anything anymore,” I told her. “I hate to do it, but throw them away.”

She took me for my word.

It hadn’t been easy to give up those boots. A man gets attached to things like that grubby pair of shoes, unless they rub blisters on his heels, which another pair of much more expensive boots I own does unless I wear thick winter socks with them. I could have broken those new boots in a good while ago if I had wanted to invest the time in elbow grease, but I continued to slip on my old pair, instead — it was easier.

I have known artists who hang on to paint brushes that they’ll never use again, housewife cooks who just can’t throw away cracked bowls or dented pans that served them too well to discard, and gardeners who keep bent shovels, worn hoes and toothless rakes because they can’t say goodbye. It may not be very logical for us to do these things, but it is human, and I am about as human as they come, particularly when it came to those boots.

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Mike Lunsford
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