Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.: June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
There are different varieties of gumboots: green, yellow, black, low-top, high-top, insulated, non-insulated, etc. You may have a pair with flowers or maybe they’re pink. The heavy-duties feature rugged soles and reinforced toes. Throughout their lifetime, Pete and Jody went through dozens of gumboots.
I was thinking this morning about a recent scenario where I provided opportunity for a person, but they just weren’t satisfied, no matter how hard I tried. It came to mind that the project was like walking through my mud-deep corral and losing a boot – a gumboot. In the wintertime, this can be double the fun, especially with farm animals running for the bucket of cracked corn and molasses in your right hand.
Growing up a farm kid, I began with infant-size gumboots and have lost a boot more than once. Standing on one foot, the mud develops intentional sinking qualities that suck your boot right off, leaving you whirling in air to regain your balance. Sometimes the mud makes gross sounds, screaming, "Ah! I got your boot!" Sometimes the free-flying foot lands in the mud – sock and all – and your mother says, “Why are your socks covered in mud?” Maybe your sock fell off completely (depending upon how old and threadbare your socks are), leaving you barefoot and exposed.
And that’s what happened in my dealings with this person – I was sucked in, lost my boot and my sock, frantically trying to regain my bearings. Of course, I finally did, but nonetheless now I’m wary of future encounters with mud – and difficult people.
Then I began thinking about Dr. Smith (and all farm-call veterinarians). How many times did Dr. Smith lose his boot in the mud? Did he ever lose a sock (or two)? Maybe he did and he said a few (or more) choice words (ha).
These questions I can’t answer, but we can speculate that if I, being in the corral with my mare just to close a gate, lost a rubber boot to sinking mud, I am sure Dr. Smith did, too. His laundry must have been outrageously soiled; animal feces, ground in dirt, pharmaceuticals, innards, not to mention the smell.
To wrap this story up, when you go out on a limb for a person, be aware. Don’t lose your boot, sock, or anything else. In the end, your good deed was thwarted, and you find yourself avoiding these types of situations, being a wee less naïve – “little more than blindness to experience, a cognitive clumsiness.”
Jody told me more than once that it wasn’t the environmental hazards or animal ailments that caused Dr. Smith the most challenges – it was certain people.
So, here’s to 2023, that we keep our boots on and if we lose a boot, our sock stays put. Somehow writing this has helped to regain footing and to keep humor in crazy situations that create a hurdle from pressing forward.