Today, as flocks of migrating birds shouted song words on the Quarry Farm, my new boots arrived in the mail. Every autumn, I order a pair of slogging boots for winter chores and trail walks. They must be big enough to allow for layers of socks and tall enough for when the days are deep with snow or icy slop.
And they must be fun so that I can look at them on those icy slop mornings and laugh a little, as much as one can through a face mask and scarf.
Although last year’s pair are still slung on the front porch, they are split in spots and the liners are worn, just as each pair of work boots is by late March, April or May or whenever the ground firms enough to walk in shallow shoes without fear of mud sucking between the toes. So I started the search for a new pair.
I have always hoped to find an extra-large child sized pair during spring clearance, the kind with handles or grips to help you pull them on. But I don’t believe those are ever made extra large enough. Cousin Holly put me on the trail of a maker who design these for adults, but they were too rich for wearing to purge the hen house of chicken leavings, or droppings left by donkeys who think that particular building belongs to them.
But this year, I found them — a a lovely pair with a chaotic paisley print and neoprene shanks. The hand loops are quite as fine as those mini yellow rubbers that I covet at TSC, but they aren’t likely to attract the chewing attention of goats, either.
I took them for a walk, first thing. And a rustle. And a wade.
Along the way, the boots led me to heralds of fall, like fallen Osage oranges, also known around here as hedge apples prized for their reputation as house spider repellents. I just think they are pretty things fresh from the tree, before the squirrels split them for food.
New brackets, as big as my boots, grow now from a tree between the old woods above the oxbow, cut off from Cranberry Run as it enters the preserve from the south. The tree, and the ornaments that signal its eventuality, ride the old Jersey cow perimeter.
This tiny piglet met the boots, which were between her and the heating pad and blankets that she craves as she heals from a probable fall in Columbus from a transport truck loaded with thousands more piglets. Her name is Nemo; not for the Pixar clownfish, but from the Greek, meaning literally “nobody.” Because she was nobody, no one cared.
Now, from here on out, no one will ever hurt her again. Not if these boots, or any of those stacked hereabouts, have anything to say about it.