Rubber Boots for the Record

0899528_1Rubber Boots 08-25-82:  So read the penciled notation in the softness of the wood studs supporting the unfinished basement wall, my father’s strong printed letters at once recognizable. This meant that on the twenty-fifth day of August  in the year 1982 he purchased a pair of rubber boots and that fact was record worthy.   That was my father, a man of record. If fact was not in evidence, if memory faltered, if truth were to be known, he kept a record.  It was not always possible to see eye-to-eye with my father for he was possessed of a certain conviction that his lifetime had afforded him sufficient wisdom to grant him the right to pass it on to his children.  Although as his daughter, I found it exceedingly more valuable to make my own mistakes, you could not argue with the record.  Whether the paperboy had been paid, if in doubt his weight lifting discipline still held, or the actors who had played James Bond,  you could find these facts on the basement studs just as in his youth you could find moments of record on the walls of his boyhood  garage.  The value of this insight was lost to us as city kids.  My sisters and I had the attention span of a gnat, fascinated for a few entries low enough to read. My father never lost his compulsion to make a note of those every day happenings in his life whether by pencil, or later with camera and so it is with mixed feeling I read his rubber boot notation for the last time as I close the door and move from the house we shared for the last year of his life.


This change in lifestyle comes with a wood located nearby and for the first time I can walk through old growth trees lush with thick moss clinging to their sides, branches as cathedral arches vaulting overhead. The dog and I  have our own route established, one not so popular to attract those who meander and meet their neighbours. Steeply recessed beams of wood form a series of  stairs and they twist and turn their way to a rather lovely view. The logging road leads from the top of the hill, crisscrosses the path at its height and returns with  long stretches of playful runs for the dog.


After our trek, there is always the drink from  the fresh water stream that races us to the bottom of the wood and swells to push its boundaries as Spring approaches.  These walks find me reminiscing and thinking of my father, the man of record and his rubber boots.  Too many years ago, he gifted me a pair of those farmer style, black rubber boots, manufactured with a rust colored band around the foot and another just below the knee where the top displayed the name brand.  The thick soles were fashioned with a zigzag tread,  the number in relief indicating the size on the bottom.  Included with the boots was a pair of appropriately sized insoles, firm and blue to keep the feet warm.  Fashionable rubber boots, those splashed with color or highlighted and painted with flowers or geometric design, buckles on the top,  were on the market even then and through the lens of my egocentric little life I thanked him and sincerely wished he’d get with the program. His was the era of courtesy, one where love was demonstrated but not spoken.  In that last year, when there was no  time clock to punch, he would make it his duty to be about in the morning and see me off to work.  I wished for solitude as I rushed to be ready, explaining in frustration he had no need to be out of bed so early.  I will always remember his reply. He believed it was better to start the day with a personal send off, knowing someone cared about your going and awaited your return.   I’m not so sure I wore the boots very much. I do know that as the years passed, they took their place in the garage with the sneakers that were worn only for yard work and when we decided to move, I know they were sold in the yard sale. Less  sure I am even that his notation recorded the purchase of my boots.


This Winter my feet have been perpetually wet and cold as we have left behind the snow storms of the East to acclimatize ourselves to the wet that is the season in the West and life on a boat.  We have passed many a cold night under cover of blanket layers, questioning the veracity of the West Coast boast that promised light rains and lawn mowing in February.  I came round to the idea of rubber boots after a visit to the local chandlery saw my partner’s feet adorned with a practical number cut to the ankle, easily pulled on and very stylish.  My e-commerce hunt confirmed no better deals than those on the Island we call home-for-now.


And still the small brook rages on its way through the wood and the smooth stones sing of the water’s ancient passage.  Slippery wooden bridges affixed with grating secure old feet.  Mine are old and passage has been cautioned by well worn muddied puddles, leash and dog in hand, pausing for her to taste the vibrant cold of the water’s gift.  But that day I spurned the bridge and flaunt  freedom to stand amidst the rushing and every day henceforth, impervious now to cold and wet.  Like the kid I once was,  I plough through the water and brave the deepest, clear, bright pools.  Caught unaware by a passerby, I almost apologize for leaving the path  but giggle and remember then I am wearing my new boots, tall and rubber, practical and black.


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