Today, I was outside shoveling snow (my least favorite past time these days) in my pale aqua boots. They're not exactly the same as my little girl boots, but they give me that little girl feel. I picked them up for gardening a year or two ago, and I've been slogging around in them ever since. I've always been either of two things: a barefoot baby or a rubber boot mucking around kind of kid!
The other day, I traded up for a pair of 'Chookas', a fancy brand of rubber boot with polka dots and stripes. I found them on sale, and honestly couldn't resist. But...somehow, they just don't have that same appeal. That got me thinking about my little girl roots in boots.
When I was a tiny thing of a girl, at a point where I first stood on two feet, I remember toddling around in a pair of big girl boots. Those boots, the original ones? Definitely...not my own! I could barely stand up, I teetered and toppled and landed at my father's knee. They were my sister Dub's boots, I think, and probably Carol's before her. Dubbie was six full years older and Carol, a year older than that. I coveted everything that belonged to her; I wanted it all for me.
Imagine. Six years on this planet, and then the likes of me shows up. No way my sister was going to stand for that. She was large and in charge, a personality to be dealt with for sure.But back then, my father was the boss, and she, of course, was given no choice. One time, I was bundled to the point of suffocation in my little blue snow suit and wrapped all around in a scarf. And Dub? Well, while no one was looking, she gave a hard tug on that scarf...you know, the one around my neck. And of course, when I opened my mouth to tell...but she gave me her most evil grin. That became her MO back then, and of course, I had to succumb. But down deep inside? She always had my back. And as for me? I worshipped the ground she walked on, even though it was a little tipsy at times!
There was no buying new anything back then, so those boots eventually became mine. I wore them everywhere, only taking them off for bed. I loved the scuff, scuff, scuff sound that they made. "Pick up your feet, Gael Susan." And I loved how my toes could lift them into the air. I marched in puddles and then turned around and marched back. When I was on the swings, I had to wrestle just to keep them on. But when it snowed outside, that was when I like them the least.
My dad would bundle me up, kiss the top of my head and wrap me in a scarf. He'd pull my sled down from a shelf in the garage and wax the runners with a bit of fresh soap. "Just the ticket," he'd say. "You'll be flying down that hill!" My sister, of course, would be out way ahead of me, and always made it clear that I was to leave her alone. But my friend, Nancy, was always there waiting with her brother, Peter, and her sister, LuAnn too. I'd sniff that air and fill my lungs and grab my sled by its side. I'd tuck that long pull rope right under my red mittened hand, and then I'd do the next natural thing...I'd let out a yell that'd echo through all of the yards, "Let's go!"
The four of us would race, with our sleds in the air, slipping and sliding all the way. And just as we'd hit the crest of the hill, we'd slam our sleds down, shoving off in the hard-packed snow. The goal was to make it over the brook, to get to the other side. Most of the time...we made it, but once in a while we'd land in the ice and crack through to the cold, black mud. It was then that I'd call for her, that crazy sister of mine...
"Dub!" I'd yell. "Help!" And before I knew it, she'd be running to rescue me. There are some things you never doubt. But then she'd run me back to the house, and my dad open the door. He'd give her one of his looks. "Who was watching her," he'd say. And oh man, how I dreaded those words. Everyone was supposed to be watching me, and so I was never supposed to get hurt.
"It's not her fault, Daddy," I'd say. But of course that held no water with him.
Dub would leave me behind again, and then the towel would come out. He'd wash me up and hand warm my frostbitten feet. Often, they'd be solid white all the way through. "You just don't know when to stop," he'd say. And of course I knew he was right. But honestly, it was the boots, the big sister, the smell of a little adventure, it was all that and so much more. When it came to being outside, there was no greater place to be!
And as for that big sister...the large and in charge kinda girl? Well she's wandering around in this wild universe somewhere, and I know she's heeding my call. I heard the tinkling of bells just a little while ago, a wind chime out on snow-covered my porch. That big sister of mine lives in the wind, and she's always got my back...and of course, I've always got hers!