Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shoe Fetish

Janet's post about trying to get her city to pick up some rubbish has me reminiscing about a similar event from my childhood.

My mother hated a sweet gum tree in our front yard. (She eventually would come to hate and murder every tree in our yard! But the sweet gum was the first.) She was forever stepping on the spiny balls it dropped in the yard and was sick of the mess.

She petitioned the city to remove it as it had come up through the sidewalk but it was mostly on our land. The city refused because it was a living, healthy tree.

My mom's reply: "I can fix that!"

So she started a small fire at the base of the tree. It was quickly going out and she ran into the house to get more fuel and left me in charge of the dwindling flames. (I was five or six...what could I do if it got out of control???)

Within seconds she was calling for me to come inside and grab some old shoes to throw on the fire. I ran into the house through the living room (don't know why we call it that... we never lived in there!) and around the corner to her bedroom. She handed me five pair of shoes - more than I could hold. I ran to the fire with a few pair and back for the rest... only there were extra shoes in her pile and she was digging in her closet for more!

Back and forth I ran, to the fire with shoes and into the house to get more. And I kept count with each trip. I was amazed that every time I ran back to that bedroom, my mother's pile of shoes had grown. I didn't think I would ever get them on the now blazing fire. (I do think Mom put some gasoline on it as some point because shoes don't really burn all that well.)

When she was finally done, seventy two pair of shoes had been sacrificed on my mother's altar of "getting-the-city-to-do-the-right-thing." SEVENTY TWO! And... it didn't even make a dent in her shoe collection!

The tree died and the city cut it down. But to this day, it always amazes me that my mother will comment on both my sister and I having "too many" shoes! Both of our reply is always the same:

"Too many! Just how many would that be?"

She seems stunned by our reply and grumbles a bit.

"Mother, I certainly don't own 72 pair of shoes I can burn; I don't even have 72 pair shoes period! Until I have that many, I don't have too many."

This is one of the few times my mother will have nothing else to say.


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Anonymous said...

I'm speechless!

Anonymous said...

Poor tree! That is a pretty funny thing to imagine though. You made me go count my own shoes. Not including muck and snow boots, I have five pairs of shoes, one pair of which is a duplicate of my paddock boots that are on their way to wearing out. In my case, if there were a fire I'd be grabbing my meager shoe wardrobe to take with me! Carmon

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Janet, That's a first!!! Are you OK???? LOL! ;-}

Carmon, you sound like my best friend. She HATES accumulating things. Every season, she buys a few dresses from the thrift store and when the season's change, she donates them back and buys more. I think she only has about four pair of shoes.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm okay! I couldn't close my mouth long enough to say anything that made sense, is all. I don't know what was more shocking-that she'd burn down a tree or burn all those shoes, or that she'd HAVE that many pairs of shoes! My mind is boggling again...

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

That's my mom... Life with her is always interesting!

Linda@VS said...

Your mom sounds like the kind of woman who knows what she wants and goes after it -- whether it's shoes enough to burn or the removal of an unwanted tree. You've written here a couple of times about taking on banks, etc., and I've admired your assertiveness. Now I know where you get it.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Velvet, I have to say both sides of my family are quick to stand up for what they believe as right. Daddy was just a bit more gentle about it that my mother's side of the family and I'm afraid I take after them!

My mom has been through so much and yet always seemed to land on her feet, I keep threatening to write a book about her.