Saturday, I sat down for a rest in my driveway. I had been hoeing, planting, and mulching for quite awhile, and I needed a break. As I watched the chickens strut around the perennial bed, I happened to glance down at my boots. The shiny, bright flowers were hardly recognizable for all the dirt, paint, and scratches covering the surface. For a fleeting moment, I experienced the bittersweet longing for my new boots, my pretty boots that celebrated Spring, growth, and life.
As I studied the footwear, I noticed a splotch of cherry red paint, a reminder of the cool June weekend my daughter and I painted the chicken coop. I cherished the rare gift of connection that mothers of teen girls often dream of.
Merging with the paint was a scar from the post hole diggers I’d used at the goat sanctuary when I learned how to put in a fence. Hot, tired, and sweaty, I came home and physically melted on the couch filled with pride at reaching a milestone in my farming journey.
Turning my feet sideways, I noticed weeks and weeks of dirt and crud caked in the treads. From March until October, I’d cleaned out chicken muck in these boots, turned compost in these boots, and hauled mulch in these boots–jobs most would consider undesirable but are critical in maintaining what brings me such pleasure.
As I sat in that driveway, I reflected on how my boots had aged. Most of the tasks that boots accomplish are not glamorous or joyful–they are jobs that are dirty and challenging. And just as those experiences shape the boot, “dirty and challenging” events also shape our lives. It’s how we choose to put them to use, however, that makes all the difference, that defines us.
I’ll keep wearing my boots for as long as they’ll have me. I kinda like seeing that splotch of red paint as my toe pokes through the compost and muck–it gives me something to smile about.