Yesterday, I wore my white tennis shoes for the first time since I bought them three months ago. The purchase seemed like a good idea at the time, but that’s because I forgot to factor in where I live. To get to my car, I have to walk out of my gate and stroll across five yards of a forty acre pasture. When the cows and sheep met to discuss personal hygiene, I think they unanimously elected to use that five yards for all offensive bodily deposits.
My white tennis shoes are now polka-dotted with brown. I try to be careful, but my mother will tell you that I was born to be dirty. On my first date with my husband I impressed him by stepping in a mud puddle, twice. Living on a farm presents more hazards than puddles. Now that I am retired, my fashion choices are dictated by those hazards.
In the morning, I get up and pull on yesterday’s dirty jeans and tee, slide into my mud boots and stroll across the pasture to switch out the dogs. The one who has been loose for the night bounds up to meet me. He knows there’s some cat food waiting for him and, excited by the thought of fish-flavored nuggets, he jumps up planting both dirty paws on my thighs.
After I switch the dogs, I mosey over to the hen house to release the feathered inmates. Spell bound by the dew-pearled cobwebs strung like party lights along the fence, I don’t notice the cow pies until I slip in one. Manure is slicker than grease and I can’t stop my downward slide. I rise up, my backside and hands stained greenish brown, and move on to the chicken house where I fill the chicken fountain, splashing enough water in the process to soak my left pants leg.
The three bottle calves, who have graduated from milk to grain, trot up. The oldest one, Ralphie, has never given up the idea that I am his mother. He bumps up against me, sucking my elbow and rubbing his dusty sides against my shirt as I lug his feed to the grain pans. Chores done, I dust off my pants, and consider changing into clean clothes. But, the garden needs to be weeded and the shed cleaned out. If I change, I won’t be clean for long. I’m not expecting company, so I elect to stay dirty. I just have to remember not to sit down.
After lunch, I discover that I need to go to town for several small purchases from the general store, and, again, I consider changing into clean clothes. But, the morning chores have to be repeated in the evening, so I go as is and hope I don’t run into anyone who would care about how I look. As I pull up to the store, I spot two female friends. Like me they are in their oldest clothes and clonking around in muck boots. We laugh about our appearance and compare notes about our chores, pointing to various stains and snags as proof of our endeavors.
My friends and I love beautiful clothes, pristine shoes and matching pocketbooks. But, those things are mostly reserved for Sunday mornings or special outings. Whenever I visit my parents in the city, I spend several days in good clothes. I don’t have to watch where I step and I’m not expected to do anything that would lead to un-removable stains. I bought those white tennis shoes on one of those trips. Now they’re not white anymore, but they are still too good to wear in the garden. I set them on a shelf in my closet. I’ll wear them to the fair this fall. They’ll be perfect for looking good in the barn. Unless it rains. Then I’ll wear my muck boots and I, and all of my sisters-in-fashion, will splash happily through whatever nature dishes out. After all, we know how to dress for success.