In ten days, I am heading to the North Shore of Lake Superior, in my native Minnesota, to do a quick hike on the Superior Hiking Trail, which runs 200 miles from Duluth nearly to the Canadian border. To get ready, on Sunday I started breaking in a new pair of boots I received as a Christmas present in 2007. I’ve taken three short walks with them, out with MacKenzie the dog, on a hot (95º F, 38 Cº) day.
Wearing the boots makes me smile, and reconnects me with a past identity, back to the 1970s, when youngsters wore hiking boots far from the hiking trail. I did that, but I also did quite a bit of hiking back in the day, and the short walks today conjured a flood of memories: in the Southern Alps of New Zealand near Mount Cook (1973); along a steep ridge near Grindelwald, Switzerland (1974); in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire with pal Chris MacPhail (1976); and many more.
More fundamentally, the boots reminded me of the blessing of shoes, something for which I thank God each day – I sometimes think of what life would be like without them, and recall seeing so many poor people without them in my travels in the Third World, most recently in India last year.