Gaudy Garden Gumshoes

Columnist Shannon McKinnon shares her gumshoe experiences.

While I always admire a nice pair of shoes I am not your typical shoe gal.

Working out of a home office and spending my downtime in the garden does not require fancy footwear.

I do try to keep a pair of decent shoes for when I go to town — which isn’t often — or out on the town, which is even rarer.

Over ten years ago I bought a pair of Josef Seibel shoes; black flats with a red flower on the side. They are the only designer name shoes I have ever owned and more than a decade later they are still my go-to pair of “town” shoes. They are crazy comfortable. I wouldn’t think twice about wearing them for a hike in the mountains. Unfortunately they are starting to look like I’ve done just that. On a recent trip to a city I was accosted by shoe shiners who shouted things like, “Those look like your favourite pair of shoes!” (Translation; those shoes are really worn out) and one woman who said, “Come for a shine, your poor shoes are weeping!”

This spring I bought a whopping three pairs of shoes; an unprecedented number. However, all three were for wearing in the garden.

The first pair I bought were comfy slip-ons with thick juicy soles that looked to be just the ticket. Unfortunately they leaked. Badly. When my feet were soaked after simply walking across the dew smattered lawn, I took them off in exasperation and examined them.

Turns out they were aqua shoes for wearing at the beach. Or on a yacht. We have neither. Good grief.

My second purchase was a horribly tacky pair of rubber “gumboot” shoes in a bright yellow with tiny red and purple flowers all over them. It was love at first sight.

I wore those babies all through spring planting until they too sprung a leak. Unlike the deceptively micro hole-filled aqua shoes, this pair leaked because I wore holes through both the soles. They were no Josef Seibel.

The old adage is true…you get what you pay for.

Undeterred by quality or common sense, I went back to the store and bought another pair.

The boisterous yellow pattern made me smile; and it’s always good to have things that make you smile. However, they now look like road kill. A summer’s worth of grass stains and gumbo have not been kind to my yellow footwear. When one of the shoes — predictably — split open on the side I had to concede they were cheaply made and there was no point in buying a third pair.

So I fixed them with a bit of duct tape.

By now I’m sure you realize I am not a fashion diva.

Couple this with a somewhat dreamy and distracted disposition and interesting things can happen. Last week I was getting ready for an event in town. I took the time to iron a dress shirt and pants.

I spent fifteen minutes polishing up my ancient Josef Seibel shoes until they reached a lustre that would make any shoe shiner weep.

Or get a bit misty eyed anyway. I picked out some jewellery, fixed my hair and spritzed on some perfume. I even applied some mascara. Just as I was heading out the door I remembered I had promised a friend I would bring her some fresh kale from my garden, so I grabbed a bag, slipped on my trusty yellow gumshoes, ran up to the garden and filled the bag full.

Then I ran back to the house, grabbed my car keys and my purse and headed off to town.

When I arrived at the event I couldn’t help but notice people were acting strange. They would greet me with a smile, look at the ground, then kind of falter, stammer and drift away.

After this happened several times I followed their gaze downward. To my horror there were my garden gumshoes — in all their gaudy, grass and gumbo stained, duct tape mended, glory–still on my feet. I had forgot to change!

Good grief. You can take the girl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the girl. Or something like that.

I heard the tail end of an interview the other day with a woman who had spent her childhood in a jungle living with monkeys.

I believe her mother was some sort of wildlife researcher or scientist.

Anyway, when they returned to civilization the transition was difficult.

She said that with monkeys you know where you stand, but humans are unpredictable.

They make up all these nonsensical social rules and then shun or laugh at you if you don’t follow them. Things like not wearing duct taped gaudy garden shoes with dress clothes to an event.

There’s something to be said for living with monkeys.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from Northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by visiting



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