three places my shoes have walked this past year


A week ago tonight my walking shoes were in a would-be suburb of Enoch Utah. They would have been walking in the snow, but for the heat of the fire, which, with the prior rain, turned the saturated earth to mud. Thick mud. I had an expensive Canon camera in one hand and my iPhone rolling in video mode in the other, so when my left foot stepped forward, the thick, viscous mud held one of my shoes captive and my socked foot, already in motion, landed full on in the wet, cold mud.


A year ago I had just finished my last big trip with the FAA, helping my team film two international airports–Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood and Miami International–and a number of smaller regional airports in the area. I swapped my walking shoes for sandals. Said shoes–more precisely the inside soles of my favorite pair of Birkenstocks–actually came home a little worse for the wear as they walked through thick sand until I got to the water’s edge each night as I unwound along the beach that was right outside my hotel room.


My shoes and the rest of me needed a break, so they traipsed around the “southernmost point of the continental United States” next to my friend Melody’s shoes. We walked the colorful, lushly tree-lined streets, kicked around Hemmingway’s home, dodged the delightfully free-range chickens (and inevitable droppings) through the middle of town, and patiently kept a light touch on the gas pedal as I drove the hurricane escape route at about 5mph through most of the upper keys on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale.

apricot jam

Somewhere in between last April and last fall both pairs of shoes alternately braved manure, mosquitos, and rotten apricots as I explored my brother’s new ranch–he ended up naming it Serenity–on my first visit. I find myself homesick for it (the too-sweet sticky mush of rotten fallen apricots–not so much, but rumor has it they’ve been rigorously pruned). I need to go back.

[Day 99 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]