Monday, December 25, 2006

Sixty Cents A Toe

I have been trying to think how to express this thing that we do this time of year. We don’t have much money, mostly because so many other things are more important, more interesting, more fulfilling, more sustaining to pursue. We are so far from consumerists it is beyond the imaginings of most mortals. And yet this time of year finds us with many many many presents under the tree and feast after feast after feast. What gives?

I’m reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie where Mr. Edwards was trying to get back to the Ingall’s house in a blizzard at Christmas. He is helped into the house, almost frozen, and produces as his gift to them, that he has struggled through snow and flooded creeks to get to them, a few sweet potatoes. They are received by the mother with such delight on her face. “Oh, these will be such a treat!” she exclaims, obviously meaning it.

Can you imagine being delighted at sweet potatoes? And not even sweet potatoes you grew in your own garden!

We understand, way down deep, that we don’t need any gifts at all. We in every essence feast every day. We do let an excuse for a party pass us by without . . . partying. So our tree is piled with gifts. But we know it is not the gifts themselves that are important but the spirit, the love with which they are given and received. Every day that we choose to spend with each other is our true gift to each other. “The best Christmas ever” is not measured by how much money is spent or how many gifts are got by any but a moron.

Tie Boots
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to my new boots. They are not new boots, just new to me. It is pretty far in to winter to just now be finding some boots, especially since I have outdoor chores morning and evening that often as not involve muck. But I’d done for a couple of years with just ok boots - cheap, not made for working in, but warm and dry enough for my excursions into the middle of winter. And I didn’t want to “do” for another year. I wanted boots that I really wanted. Plus, those just ok kinds of boots are still nearly $20 new and you are lucky to get them to last a season.

I’d found the girls boots exactly like I wanted for myself and was real pleased at that, for them to have good boots. In looking, I just made it a habit to stop in to the local Haven Store. It supports a homeless ministry. I just kept putting out there that one day there would be a pair of boots like I wanted in my size.

Ironically I had tried these very boots on at least twice before. And rejected them. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind. And in that I reminded myself of a story a Chi Gong/Tai Chi teacher once told - how he’d gone to pick up some Buddhist monks who were to visit his ranch, on the way his truck had broken down, he was despondent that he had to have a new truck and could not by any means afford such. The monks had said to him, “JL, when you discover what it is you really need, you will have it.” It took him awhile to come to it, but what he needed was a truck that worked, not a new truck, and when he came to that, he got a call from someone wanting to sell their truck at a reasonable price.

On The Way to Milk
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Finally one morning I went to milk and my old shoes had sprung a leak. I was going out that day anyway, so I stopped by the Haven store. And beside these boots they had a pair of shoes sorta kinda a little like the boots I had in mind. Except shoes. That were just slightly too narrow for my feet. And I started to get them because they were sorta kinda a little like the boots I had in mind as what I wanted.

And then I thought about what it was I really wanted in a pair of winter boots. Waterproof. Insulated. Slip on, or at least not hard to get on and off. And when I looked at those shoes I knew the muck would come over their tops the first time I wore them in a rain. And that my toes would hurt. And I picked up the big boots again, and felt for the first time their insulation (they are called “Northerners” after all). I put them on and decided they really weren’t all that too big for my feet after all. They certainly looked to be seriously waterproof, muck proof, warm, and not hard to get on and off.

“Oh, what a treat these are!” I exclaim again and again.

Xmas Morn Boots
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

And to prove opulence to opulence, look at Christmas morning, what my husband had bought for me at the same second hand store, a few days before! I now have two pairs of totally cool winter farm boots.

Slip-on Boots
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.


Echo said...

Thank you, your words are a gift as well.
Sandles which feel like slippers found their way to my feet this Christmas. A small delight, unneeded, appreciated, like each moment with children, and with life.

the Contrary Goddess said...

It reminds me of a neighbor we once had who believed having more than one pair of shoes was obscene. I remember it was Dr. Rainwater's wife who first presented me with the idea that conspicuous consumption was obscene. Funny how those seeds you don't even know are planted grow, because I probably never even met Dr. Rainwater's wife, it was just him telling me about her.

Although a couple of pairs of boots on a farmstead is a good thing, not an obscenity. I walked the fence today checking it after the huge storm on Christmas eve, and it was a pleasure in the lace ups -- no slip sliding down the steep parts.

dragonfly183 said...

you know this story remind me of the old shoes I used to make do with all of the time. They always got holes in them and leaked and i would come home at night and pull them off along with wet and mud stained socks and cold feet. The best pair I ever owned was a pair of rubber riding boots I got out of a state line tack catalog. They were knee high, water proof, made out of rubber, and usually lasted about a year before they had to be replaced.

the Contrary Goddess said...

It has been ages since I had rubber riding boots! Brings back memories, unfortunately painful! They gave me corns when I was but 18. By that time I had a nice pair of Dehner's (still do) and never wore rubber ones again. I used to swear by what I call "Duck" shoes/boots -- Bean made a pair, others made similar. And that's really what I was looking for, but these, I'm sure, will last many years so my search for winter boots for myself is behind me for awhile now.

Joe Tornatore said...

husband giving you the boot, humm.

the Contrary Goddess said...

yeah Joe, and a good one too!