My yard work shoes are quite... distinguished

Jun 21, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

Recently, it has been suggested by a member of my household that it might be time to retire my yard-work shoes.

The piece of advice was delivered as follows: "Good God, throw those things away."

I have supplied a recent photograph of the shoes. I wear them to mow the lawn, install and fix sprinkler pipes, prime the pump, drain the system and irrigate the three acres.

To a certain eye, I suppose the other household member's opinion is understandable. There is, to be sure, a certain amount of wear, evident in the leather, the fabric, the soles, the stitching, the laces -- well, just about everywhere. "Clean" is not a word that could be used in an accurate description of the shoes. They were white once. And, yes, I do understand that they now look as if they are a pair of two right-foot shoes rather than a left and a right.

To my eye (and feet), however, they are just about perfect. And the cat has no problem with them. He likes to lie out there next to them, rubbing his face against them. That ought to count for something.Good kitty.

But some might say the evidence against the shoes is mounting. They aren't much good for keeping my feet dry anymore. Water rushes in from all sides, but I usually wear them without socks when I'm watering, and the water just drains out through the holes.There are lots of those.

I worry about mosquitoes, and I have to spray bug-be-gone not just on my arms and my neck when I'm outside working, but on the shoes, too. There are too many access points for the skeeters.

There is an inner layer of dirt, dry leaves and old grass in the shoes, but I say this is a good thing, because the insoles are shot. If it weren't for the slowly composting yard crap in the shoes, there wouldn't be much cushioning at all.

The other household member appreciates none of these attributes.

"Those shoes stink," she said.

False. Patently false. The shoes do not stink -- at least not in the sense of unpleasant odor. As to another definition of the word, such as "the condition of being disgustingly inferior," well, that's simply a matter of opinion.

"They are decrepit," said my household member, continuing her scholarly critique.

Decrepit? I prefer "craggy," in the sense of Cary Grant in his 50s. Watch him in "North by Northwest." He was exactly my age in that one. Eva Marie Saint didn't seem to mind craggy.

OK, the shoes do squeak when I walk, especially when they are wet, which, to be honest, is pretty much all the time. But I view this as a safety feature, a useful noise-maker to disperse wild things when I'm walking down by the ditch after sunset to switch off the pump. I have pointed this out to the other member of my household, noting that I have never -- not once -- been attacked by a mountain lion while wearing the shoes.

Exactly how old are they? Carbon dating could answer with certainty, but I think Bush was president when I go them. Not W. The other one. In the late 1990s, when we lived at a different address, the neighbor dog grabbed one of them and made off with it, gnawing on it contentedly for most of the afternoon until I got it back after a five-minute tug-of-war. Check the picture and try to guess which one it was. You won't be able to. I'm not sure I remember anymore.

I did realize at some point that the shoes were in their golden years, and I bought a nearly identical pair with the idea of having them in reserve once it was time to retire the old guard. That was eight years ago. The new ones are too nice to ruin, and the old ones are too good to throw away.

The other member of the household disagrees.

"Just throw them out. The next day you won't even remember them."

Just throw them out. Sacrilege.

Last Sunday, though, I did begin to rethink the situation when I slipped off the shoes on the porch and saw a patch of sunburn on my right foot. It's true. They aren't even sun-proof anymore.

So, I have decided to quit wearing them. Time to start breaking in the new pair. The curb appeal of the house will rise dramatically once the oldies aren't sitting there on the porch steps. I realize this.

But the dumpster won't do. Not for these babies. We've been through too much together.

I could donate them to the Riverton Museum, but I wouldn't want to spark a turf war with the Smithsonian.

Bury them, perhaps? Hmmm. Probably ought to call the DEQ first, in case there are wetlands nearby. Burn them? Better not. We've pulled out of the Paris climate deal, so I don't want to make things worse.

This is a tough one. Don't rush me. I'll think it over and get back to you. Might take a few years, though.

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My old yard work and irrigating shoes do look pretty bad, but looks can be deceiving -- but, no, not really in this case.

My old yard work and irrigating shoes do look pretty bad, but looks can be deceiving -- but, no, not really in this case.

My old yard work and irrigating shoes do look pretty bad, but looks can be deceiving -- but, no, not really in this case.

My old yard work and irrigating shoes do look pretty bad, but looks can be deceiving -- but, no, not really in this case.

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