I bought a new pair of shoes lately. All my friends gleefully applauded my purchase, and my husband was very pleased too.
You see, about three weeks ago, while on the construction site for the new community garden we’re building in my neighborhood, I sprained my ankle pretty badly. Limping awkwardly, I discovered very quickly that I simply didn’t have the right kind of footwear. City shoes, even “practical” shoes with just a little bit of heel don’t work with an injury, and you can’t grip a slide-style shoe when you’re sporting an ace bandage.
That got me thinking about Transition footwear.
There actually was a time in my life when my friends called me “Emelda” and I had 50+ pairs of shoes in my closet. (I also had a license plate frame that read “Masters of Shopping, University of [name of major mall]”) So in my youth, I knew serious shoe fettish.
But shoes like that won’t get us very far in the world of Transition. You can’t walk across a community garden, let alone go out and build one. You can’t make it very far as a serious pedestrian, and honestly, those fashion soles don’t grip well on a bicycle pedal either. Ladies, the tasks of Transition call upon us to … get real shoes.
By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that my new shoes look a lot more like the lower right inset photo than the one at the top of this post. Actually, the pair I opted for are more like hiking boots, because the insides of the work boots had a flat insole and I didn’t think I could stand in them all day long. They lace up my ankles (and fit over the ace bandage on my sprain, and got me through a 10 hour workday on my feet with minimal swelling). They’re really practical when it comes time for shoveling out the chicken coop (which I did in them last weekend). And they do a really mean job on the footrest of a garden spade.
A few years ago I had a pair of garden sloggers. Those were in the days before anything crokish. But the plastic didn’t last long under the beating UV rays of the So Calif sun, and the instep began to split. There isn’t much you can do with a broken plastic shoe. Epoxy, perhaps. But a broken plastic shoe is pretty much landfill material.
For sheer durability, I give top stars to good ole fashioned wooden clogs. They can be resoled, the leather upper can be repaired, and they are virtually indestructible. (Plus I’ve mastered the fine art of kicking them off mid-stride at a dead run as I dash inside to grab the phone) They keep you high and dry when it’s raining, and the open backs are great for showing off fun hand-knit socks. If the leather starts to look shabby, they can be demoted to chores or garden wear, and you start a new pair, but you’d better choose wisely because they’ll be in your life for years.
Repairs … there’s another topic. Does your town still have a shoe repairman? We do, back in a tiny store wedged in behind the office megastore and the chain bank. When I took my old clogs in there, he resoled them and shined up the wood, gained them another 3 years of life. Now there’s another local businessman whom we’d better keep in business. When it comes to Transition footwear, we’re going to need him.
I’ve been wearing my boots all over L.A. these days (the ankle is slowly getting better). At first it felt kind of werrd — big boots that really didn’t go with anything but garden jeans. But there’s a solidness to the clump-clump-clump they make. These things mean business. They’re for going out and getting some serious work done. They’re the shoes of a producer, not a consumer. And I’m proud to be wearing ’em.