They keep your feet dry, and that is what boots are for. – Mrs. Quimby
Only grown-ups would say boots were for keeping feet dry. Anyone in kindergarten knew that a girl should wear shiny red or white boots on the first rainy day, not to keep her feet dry, but to show off. That’s what boots were for — showing off, wading, splashing, stamping. — Ramona the Pest
I got new chore boots a couple weeks ago. After A LOT of hard wear, my old ones had developed cracks and were no longer waterproof and since I live in the wet-wet-wet-winter Willamette Valley, I need my chore boots to be waterproof. I’d learned to depend on XTRATUF boots during my years spent in Alaska and I knew I wanted to replace my XTRATUFS with XTRATUFS, so I googled for purchasing options. An REI closeout sale caught my eye and when I clicked, I found exactly what I was looking for. I had a couple color choices at the sale price and I hovered not even a little between army green and sunshine yellow — I clicked yellow.
Which was the CORRECT CHOICE.
There’s been a lot of sadness hanging around lately. Like the winter fog that blankets our fields and drips from the trees, sadness comes and obscures the long views. It demands that I live right here, right now, attending to what I can see, never mind whatever may come next. But right here right now there are people I know, and people I love who are actually dying, and the living sometimes feels so very hard.
A few days after placing my online boot order, a box arrived on our doorstep and as I tore through the packaging I wondered, would I really like bright yellow? I usually avoid loud choices. But when I opened the box, I instantly knew– I love these boots.
I put them on and tramped outside to let the chickens out of their coop, and immediately thought of Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary was a masterful writer who wrote true stories into the lives of her characters and her delightful character Ramona the Pest lived inside the stories of my childhood.
When my boys were young, I read Cleary’s books to them and we laughed together as we imagined the various antics happening amongst the kids in the neighborhood of Klickitat Street. One year when in Oregon, we took a field trip to the Portland neighborhood where Cleary grew up and later used as the setting for stories. In Grant Park we found Ramona – pictured here (along with Henry Huggins and Ribsy).
I love the way Cleary writes the stories of Ramona’s family and community wrapped with care around this little girl who is busy becoming her genuine self on the complex journey of growing up. My memory of the story about Ramona getting new rain boots to replace the old hand-me-down brown boots she got from the neighbor boy was that Ramona’s new boots were yellow. But when I went back to the book to check the color of Ramona’s boots, I discovered that they were actually red.
Early in the post-traumatic recovery after my car accident one of the therapies recommended was to see if I could tap back into my childhood memories where I had once upon a time experienced life from an anchored position of relative safety. The intention was to find throughlines where I could anchor my spinning, injured brain into safety once again. The therapist suggested I approach this project through sensory experiences and since it was July, my mom baked peach kuchen, one of my favorite summer desserts and the smell of warm peaches and cinnamon filled the house in the effort to break trail and get me back to safety. (The therapist also suggested I might find handholds by returning to the familiar stories of my childhood, so I got out a copy of Ramona The Pest, but my reading project didn’t go so well as the pie eating project because……brain injury.)
Honestly, I don’t really know what the point of this post is yet – what is the connection between my yellow boots and Ramona the Pest’s red boots? Bright, bold color is excellent for puddle stomping in the Oregon rain, for one thing. Ramona’s stories were set in Portland, so obviously Ramona knew this. So do I.
Good for wading, splashing, stamping. Good for being seen, according to Ramona, and I would add– also good for seeing. As I navigate some of the hardest moments of my life in this current season, I find myself reaching for handholds and tapping my throughlines, while I set anchors for the living right here, right now.
And with that in mind, I pull on my bright yellow chore boots and step out into the fog.