VICKI'S VIEW: Leaky boot

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Just when you think everything is alright with the world, you end up with a leaky boot.

Living in Pennsylvania, snow is a given. It’s going to happen…no two ways about it.

Every winter, Dad would get the snow tires put on the Bonneville, Pontiac, I would drag out my sled and round flying saucer sled, and Mom would get out the snow boots and snow suits to see who could fit into what that year. My middle sister got a lot of hand-me-downs from things I had outgrown. My baby sister got her share of those as well from my middle sister. When money is tight, you do what you can.

I had a growing spurt, unfortunately for my dad, and had to have a coat and new boots. Back then, snow boots were not attractive things. They were all black and clunky, lined with faux fur that got smelly after repeatedly getting wet inside and subsequently dried over a heating vent. You wore them to trudge through the snow to the school bus stop, kept them on all day in the heated classroom, then wore them home from the school bus stop through the snow to the house, then outside to play. Needless to say, they were stinky. But I had to have snow boots, so I went with Dad to the store.

My parents had taken me to the store the year before to replace my outgrown coat. It was awesome. Gray plaid, it hung to the ground as a maxi but could be unzipped below the knee for a midi length, and further unzipped below the hips for a car coat. But this year, it no longer fit. Bummer. To make matters worse, it was too big for my middle sister who also needed a coat.

There was no way we could afford all of this, so my mom had to get creative.

Somewhere she found a bolt of bright red, faux fur. It wasn’t beautiful, but it was bright. She cut out various sized circles and before we knew it, she had created three ponchos for my sisters and me. Each had a zipper at the neck, a high collar, and white piping or ricrac ribbon around the bottom.

Now as a tween, I wasn’t sure about this. Did I really want to be seen in public wearing a bright neon red faux fur anything? But a beggar couldn’t be choosy, and it was cold outside, so I wore it, preparing myself for insults and nasty comments.

Amazingly, not a word was said. Everyone sort of looked at my poncho askance and rather puzzled. But it only took one day for me to realize that this poncho thing was awesome. It was warm, it was cozy, it was longer than the typical car coat, and it was convenient to pull my legs up under it like a blanket. If I got too hot, I could just throw it over my shoulders. A disaster was averted, and I was glad…I didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings and be shamed by my peers into not wearing it.

So, with my new poncho, I set out one afternoon wearing my new boots.

It was a February day, bright, sunny and warmer than usual. The snow was melting quickly with icicles dropping off roof edges and shattering on concrete walkways. Melted ice dripped from tree branches, and in the road gutters, melted ice and snow had formed slush and puddles.

My favorite thing during that time of the year was to walk through the melting snow, break up the ice and slush in the gutters to send the water flowing down the hill. So, I found an awesome spot and started stomping the slush. After a minute, the water was several inches deep and up to make ankles in the boots.

That’s when I felt it. My boot had a leak.

My brand-new boot was leaking. Unbelievable.

Now my foot was half frozen in a pair of cold, wet socks, inside a leaky boot quickly filling up with water.

I hurriedly trudged home, squishing all the way. I was pretty mad about the whole thing until I passed by the picture window in front of my house. My bright red poncho looked so colorful and pretty, and as I sat down in the foyer and pried off my boot, I felt rather happy. This meant I would probably get new boots next year, and the poncho really looked great with my knee high snow boots. I wasn’t going to let a leaky boot spoil my mood. No way.

It’s a good thing I couldn’t see the future.

The next year I outgrew my poncho.

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