by Mitch Lee
It was a raw, wet mid-November day in 1974. Each day around the shore of Limekiln Lake was gloomier than the previous with the water a darker shade of grey and the downed leaves lost of their sun-filled luster.
It was the kind of outdoor day that could not be enjoyed by an eight year old unless he was wearing boots. I hated boots.
I think I felt that way because they kept me from getting outside as quickly as I wanted.
Each bootlace seemed to back out of at least three of its small metal grommets.
And somehow the lace was dried out with a small knot so tight that my fingers could not loosen it. When I managed to wrap my feet in the boots they felt like two giant anchors that kept me from getting where I needed to go.
Because they were boots, I obviously thought I could go places where my sneakers were not supposed to go.
I trampled through water in the creek that was six inches deep only to find out that they were waterproof only to morning fog or perhaps one of my friends “say it don’t spray it” talking sprays.
They seemed to ward off a bit of mud, but how was it that when I took them off my socks were almost black?
Unlike my Pro Keds, they weren’t great for climbing boulders or trees.
It was as if they were trying to slow down all my outdoor fun.
Branches, twigs and ferns became embedded in the laces and found a way to skid up my shins.
They were even worse when they got wet because they became twice as heavy.
They did however create a great footprint in the soft pathway; I always turned around to take a look at the tracks.
So, it was those darn boots that made me a non-fan of mid November.
It was like taking an impatient girl fishing with you and explaining, “Just a couple more casts and I think they will start biting.”
Or that old snowplow driver who comes by just when you finish shoveling the end of the driveway.
They weren’t as bad as coming home to the smell of fresh-baked cookies, only to find out they were going to be a gift for your mom’s friends.
Or even worse, finding out you have to share your new birthday present with your younger brother.
The way I enjoyed the boots the most was when I got home and stuffed them beside the Ben Franklin stove.
They were the perfect item for a still life drawing. It’s an image that still fascinates me today: a single or pair of boots that seem to be waiting for their next adventure.
When I see them propped against a baseboard I have to get out my ink pens and sketch them.
As I was growing up, it seems that boot season was better with them off than on.
Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller,
lives at Inlet. firstname.lastname@example.org