Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Duck, duck, boots

Last fall, my parents generously bought me a pair of L.L. Bean “duck hunting” boots.

Needless to say, I was not planning to go duck hunting, though with the depth of mud in the barnyard at that time, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a duck or two float past. No: I was merely trying to trek my way daily from the barnyard gate to the hayloft ladder to feed the cows. But I was doing this in boots that I’d had for nearly a decade, and they simply provided no barrier to the grit, dirt, and cold water. My parents happened to see me one morning immediately after I fed the cows and they kindly told me to go find a replacement pair, quickly.

The only problem with my new duck-hunting boots are that I never want to take them off. They’re fleece-lined and warm. They keep my feet absolutely dry. Mud slides right off their slick leather sides.

Wearing my duck-hunting boots, I feel a little bit like I do when I put on sweatpants at the end of the day, which I’m always careful to wait to do until I’m sure all encounters with anyone outside my immediate family are over. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to see me in my sweats, but when I put them on, I feel so comfortable and relaxed that it’s almost pharmaceutical.

My feet react the same way to the duck boots. Putting them on makes me wish I never had to wear anything else on my feet. And this is a problem because while they’re new and clean – for mud boots, anyway – they’re not exactly a fashion statement.

Succumbing to the desire to wear them every time I leave the house just seems too decadent….and also too lazy. I’ve never been that much of a shoe buyer anyway, but I at least try to have my feet look acceptable when I leave the house. Now, it’s just so tempting not to even bother.

My duck boots don’t merely protect me from mud, which is why now I wear them for walking in the woods as well as doing barnyard work. Their rigid rubber soles are impervious to ruts and rocks. Their leather sides hold off sharp poking branches. Their well-stitched seams keep out water and mud. And their fleece lining always, always keeps my feet warm.

I tell myself I can’t cave into the temptation of wearing them more than I already do. I don’t wear sweats out of the house, and I won’t wear the duck boots if I’m not walking in the woods or working in the barn. Some standards must apply.

But it’s awfully tempting. Nothing feels quite like sliding my foot into that cozy fleece and zipping up the front.

And I suppose if it were a really snowy day, that might be an excuse to wear them even if I was just heading to the bus stop. Or to the supermarket. Or even to a meeting at the kids' school.

But wait. Standards must apply. No sweats and no duck boots. Not this year, anyway. Maybe next year, if there’s more snow.

It’s almost a reason to hope for more snow.

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