Tribute To My Boots

They climbed the stone steps and terraces of Machu Picchu and Sacsawayman, and balanced on the unsteady floating islands of Peru’s Lake Titicaca.

They hiked to a quartzite mine in the South Dakota badlands, scuffing garnet-encrusted rocks strewn on the trail.

They trod grasses between the standing stones of Stonehenge and Avebury, climbed the steep path up Glastonbury Tor, and circled the Chalice Well and roofless Glastonbury Abbey.

They slogged through fern and bracken in the Scottish Highlands, through muddy sheepfolds in Kilmartin Valley, and dried before cheerful flames in a stone fireplace.

They followed the steps of my ancestors down the stone passages of Ireland’s Newgrange and Knowth Neolithic mounds.

Too large and heavy for my suitcase, the boots traveled abroad on my feet – except when passing through airline security points!

Home from these trips I marveled, when the boots finally dried, that bits of Scottish bog and Irish moss clung steadfast to their seams and laces, as to my soul.

The boots made my steps sure on uneven paths through our parks and preserves, when my attention was focused more on my dog than on the path under my feet.

I do not remember when I bought them, only that I was happy to find a good fit for my long, narrow feet. This week my even older boots finally retired, no longer repairable. My well-traveled boots took their place as sturdy protectors of my feet while I clean and care for the resident animals at Sulphur Creek Nature Center.

I looked down at my boots and felt the collision of worlds. I remembered the sight of them standing on bracken and a wet leaf-covered forest floor, at the same moment as I recorded them standing on straw and mulch in the gray fox enclosure – and noticed I had stepped in some of the fox poop I was cleaning up.

Welcome, boots, to my new world. You have been initiated.

And so it is.

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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