After 3 years, two of which were spent walking nearly 24 hours a day on sharp limestone, it was obvious that my boots were dead.
The death of a favorite pair of shoes is tragic for all of us but this was an unusual case. These boots were my whole persona. They were ME. They were the perfect embodiment of my medieval self...the archer, the craftsman, the woodsy lassie who played with her dogs and sheep, and the 21st century snob. Snob? Yep. Despite the fact that these wonderful fawn colored foot wrappers were seemingly hand stitched and perfectly floppy around my ankles, these were the only pair of Timberlands® I had ever owned. Now here I have to admit that it was the beautiful feel and unusual style of these boots that first stole my heart but the fact that a tiny little tree logo was branded on the heel made wearing them such a sinful pleasure. It was an indulgence I never allowed myself and after going back and forth to the store 4 times over two weeks and a 75% price reduction, they were mine!! But now they were dead, and I was completely at a loss about my future without my boots.
With my chin up, I pondered buying a pair of ghillies but how silly would that look standing in the middle of a sheep pen? I scoured thrift stores, lit candles and had daily tea devotionals with Saint Anthony trying to find the exact shoe, or at least a shoe that would make me feel close to complete as I knew that my persona would never be the same. In the meantime, my dead boots lay on the floor, taunting me with their ragged holes where a sole once was and the tattered, rolled, and stained leather at least a full inch higher than where the bottom edge had been when I first brought them home. I would never be able to repair them, but I could never, ever dispose of them because to do so would be akin to removing my own feet and throwing them out right along with them. Perhaps I could enshrine them? Perhaps I could save them as an artifact of the first years of the castle I was building! Surely there would someday be a museum dedicated to this enormous project that had been the death of my cherished friends, the reason for all those danged Arkansas limestone paths that had caused this crisis in the first place. No, they could never be disposed of. Instead, they traveled back to Mississippi and lay on the floor beside the computer for over a year, a bittersweet reminder that my life at the castle was over, and that my boots were only a part of my past and not my future.
Perhaps it was the fact that Saint Anthony missed our daily chats, or maybe the stars aligned for a short while which prompted me to make one more attempt, but whatever it was that happened to allow the resurrection of my boots, I am a complete medievalist once again. After numerous attempts at shoe repair shops, phone calls to Timberland and countless searches on e-bay, I had given up on ever wearing them again but something that day urged me to look one more time. A quick online search of “Timberland repair” yielded a site in California that claimed to work miracles on dead boots...and I truly needed a miracle! After the first tentative phone call, there was hope. “Send us some pictures and I’ll talk to the shop manager,” she said.. “This is encouraging” I thought, “but don’t put much faith in this. Afterall, she didn’t say they could fix them. Only that they would LOOK at them.” After a few exchanges by phone and e-mail, it was agreed that they could at least try to give them back to me. So, with bridled enthusiasm, I mailed my friends to California in the envelope they provided. I waited and I wondered, until they would be returned to me. How would they look? Would they still be my perfect shoe? Would they still be the ultimate blending of the 13th century look with a 21st century composition sole?
In some of my bardic performances, I tell the folktale “Something from Nothing” about a favorite jacket that gets re-purposed into a vest, a tie, a handkerchief and finally a button. When the button is lost, it surely becomes impossible to make “something from nothing” but the resourceful young laddie in the story finds what no one else was able to. As with my boots, you can indeed make something from nothing. Not only can you make a medievalist extremely happy and whole again, but there is “just enough material here to make...a wonderful story.”