|Carharts, circa 2007|
My boots, beloved to me, recently underwent professional restoration. These everyday shitkicker boots are things of perfection. I got them in the autumn of 2007, during a road trip with D. We stopped at a farm supply shop somewhere near the eastern edge of the Ozarks because I always like to see what kind of tack is sold where. There wasn't much; it was the kind of place where horses are considered livestock. But there were these Carharts, men's size nine, roomy enough for both summer swelling and double-sock winters. I hugged them close, bargaining with myself, as I wandered around the store with D. She's a chiseler from birth; her mere presence compelled me to think cheap. The Carharts were on sale, but still expensive for me. But these could be them, I thought, the footwear of a lifetime. I wore them out of the store. Since then, they've logged hundreds and hundreds of miles. When the sole on the right one began to separate a couple of months ago, I resisted the decline, hating to lose my perfect Carharts. Instead, I found an old-school cobbler. "That's a decent boot," he grizzled at me, handing me a pickup ticket. The beauty of his work proves he meant it.
|Another Winter, A Better Winter|
This morning brought 15 degrees and a breeze. The sun was out and the snow squeaked like styrofoam underfoot. It's the kind of weather that makes me want to kill myself, always has. Something about the brutality of the cold, coupled with the blinding sun, drives me inward, away from the assaultive insistence of nature. I take it personally.
Let's go riding, K said to me the other day. I love her. I didn't want to chicken out, but I pretty much assumed I would. Turns out I didn't. It was the first winter ride, first snow ride of my life. I loved it. K took Scout and I rode Gambler, fuzzy as a seal, white-like-snow Gambler. The trail was untouched save for deer tracks here and there. The naked trees, branches woven close, blocked the breeze and checked the sun. We rode under a canopy of quiet and stillness, the horses' hooves cutting softly through the snowcrust. I felt happiness drifting up in me, an unexpected warmth hard to put into words. When we finally turned for home, Scout started jigging, so K and I decided to work. Back and forth we serpentined along the trail, schooling like minnows one behind the other. "Leave her out of it, K," I said. "We're just working on our aids together. Remember, outside rein, inside leg, switch, outside rein, inside leg." Behind me and Gambler, I felt Scout coming back down into peace.
H.G. picked me up, and as we drove away from the barn, I pointed out for him the hoof prints we'd left in the snow. Just then, it felt like Christmas to me. Thank you, K.