Inspired by the folks over at WordPress’ Daily Writing Prompt
They lie there, dust embedded within their leathery pores, deep in folded crevasses fading the dark brown skin they once had. Laces hold the rest together despite bearing eyelet, polished wear and fraying along their length. While replaced only once, they have seen their fair share. Upturned, their soles have worn smooth in most places, at the end of the heel and from the toe to the ball of the foot. Salvaged from retirement once before by a local shoesmithy, the heels were resurrected, yet now they’ve worn through to the insole. And they squash and flap if one walks in them.
Peering in close, within the creases formed through long use, deep within the grain of the leather itself, into crevasses of the soles, one may find traces of where they’ve been, places that left a small bit of themselves rubbed in or ground underfoot. Looking close grains of sand may be found from Normandy beaches, flecks of rust from German battlements or a rounded pebble the shore of Nice or a bit of rock embedded during a frenzied downhill mountain bike slalom from snowline passed Swiss chalets over glacial waterfalls to a pristine, Alpine valley below or perhaps even a dollop of pigeon poo caught up from Trafalgar Square. Melded deep into the leather itself, white marble dust from the Acropolis, mortar granules from the Roman Colosseum or traces of volcanic ash carried from Pompeii. Rubbed smooth at the outside edge just where sole meets leather, an indentation reminiscent of a horse stirrup perhaps from rides along the Turkish shore or rainforests of Costa Rica.
Yet beyond the physical traces – imagined, speculated or actual – there are those remembered. Taken for granted more often than not, these boots walked along historical grounds and took me to memorable sights. They brought me before monumental griffons that once guarded palaces of Mesopotamia, the friezes that once set into the Parthenon’s pediment, carved statues of Horus and elaborate sarcophaguses of Egypt and allowed me to gaze upon the Rosetta Stone. I stared into the living eyes of the seated scribe, upon the smile of the Mona Lisa, and the beauty of the Venus di Milo and the Winged Victory.
These boots meandered along cobblestones streets, polished with age and use, under Roman archways in eastern France, passed along the Seine, walked over the pale blue, glacial melt river flowing through Sölden, Austria within sight of the peak where the Ice Man was found. They stepped within footfalls of kings, cardinals, popes and peasants under the vaulted ceilings of Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, St. Peter’s, Duomo of Pisa and Cathedral of Reims – liberated by Joan of Arc and held service to the coronation of King Charles VII. They have climbed the slopes of a Costa Rican volcano and run from a well lobbed lava bomb. And they’ve hiked up a mountain for a view over Naxos with the Mediterranean spread out below only to be accosted by aimless bell jingling goats.
These boots carried me through an intense set of travel years from Central America to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to a trip to Alaska across Europe and numerous hikes and singletrack rides throughout Arizona. They were bought for one trip, a long stay in Costa Rica, but endured so much more. In the end, those boots done did their walkin’.