Ode to My Sturdy Rubber Boots
by Bill Harley All Things Considered, March 26, 2008In southern New England, where I live, it's mud season. Its ugly, wet, and cold with sleet and rain all piled on top of each other. Wet socks. Wet shoes. Cold feet. It is a miserable time and made more miserable by the fact that half the people I know have escaped to somewhere warm. This time of year, the only way to avoid the misery is to stay inside and moan.
Unless you have the solution to the season.
And I do.
They sit by the door waiting for me, and while it may speak more about the narrowness of my very circumscribed life than their real worth, just the fact that they're sitting there, waiting for me, makes me happy.
I speak, of course, of my wonderful, brilliant, intelligently-designed, calf-high rubber boots. They are a piece of industrial genius. They are real and vibrant, and make my life more worth living.
Others may speak of the newest digital gadget. Others may speak of the latest way of connecting to the world, something that promises a better life. Every day brings a new promise of connectivity. A new way to save us. But these things do not save me. Hardly any thing is capable of saving me. I have sampled all of these things, and I find them wanting. None of these things are real — they are only promises.
But my rubber boots are real and they do not fail me. I slip them on over my socks at a moment's notice. They go on easily. My feet rejoice, like the wagging tail of a dog waiting for its walk.
My feet know they are safe.
I step outside the house and nothing can stop me — the late season snowstorm, the puddle of standing water at the bottom of my porch steps that will never evaporate, the mud and muck this season brings. My feet are warm and dry and happy. And so am I.
My boots are modest — they make no promise they can't keep. I found them at one-third the price of the Wellington boots I looked at longingly for years. Mine are American made and inexpensive and unattractive and brown and sturdy — they are now three years old and still look new — I know I will have them forever. I will die with them on. They are homely and they are wonderful.
My rubber boots make me braver and kinder and more generous.
Yes, I will get the mail.
Yes, I will get the newspaper.
Yes, I will walk the dog.
Yes to the garbage.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I have rubber boots. Good strong rubber boots, and I am not afraid.
If I only had rubber boots for my soul, rubber boots for my spirit — something that protected my psyche from the vagaries of this rough world as well as these simple marvels protect my lower extremities.
So, here is to things that last. Here is to things we can count on. Here is to things that wait for us by the door, unstinting in their service. Things that make us better humans. Here is to rubber boots.