27 March 2009

Tempted Fate

The other day while burning brush, I used the side of my work boot to kick some errant twigs into the fire as I had at least fifty times before in the life of these boots without incident. I nudged a log further in with the toe of my boot and said, "I'm kind of waiting for my boot to catch on fire one of these days."

"Ooh, don't do that," Mom said.

"Well, I'm not trying to do that, but if it does happen I've got it covered: Stop, drop, and roll." I looked down at the tan leather uppers and realized if anything was going to catch fire, it would probably be the laces. "Hunh. My laces are probably the part most likely to catch fire, and it'd be hard to get those flat to the ground with stop, drop, and roll."

"The hose is right over there. Just flip the white lever to turn it on."

"Yeah, I know. Failing that I'd probably be better off patting out the flames with my gloves."

The laces never did catch fire, so today when we were burning, I proceeded as usual, kicking bits of wood in that were too hot to pick up. By four o'clock--the end of a burning day where I live--all but a few logs were reduced to charcoal and ash. We'd burned a lot so the diameter of the burn pile had expanded to about four feet.

Mom and I both hated to put out the smoldering logs before they were incinerated, so we moved the logs to the center of the pile and covered them with an upended metal fire pit, so the logs could continue to burn while we dowsed the surrounding foot and a half of ash and charcoal with the hose. One log was sticking out, so I grabbed the shovel to push it under the metal cylinder. A knob on the log made it impossible to accomplish without lifting the now smoking fire pit. I knew Mom would try to lift it with just her gloves, but I was sure the metal was already too hot. I handed her the shovel and got one of the pokey sticks so that I could lift it without touching it.

I slid the long stick through two of the fire pit's legs, stepped forward for leverage, and started to lift. Mom pushed with the shovel, not quite getting the log all the way underneath, and suddenly said, "Get your boot out of the coals."

I quickly moved my left boot out of the ring of ash and charcoal. I reached over to lift the fire pit again and the pokey stick snapped in two. I managed to lift it up enough for her to give the stray log a final shove inside.

"Stamp your boot out," she said.

I looked down and the sole of it was indeed smoking. I stamped it out and then lifted my foot so that I could see the bottom of the boot. The lug sole was full of black charcoal pieces. Mom started soaking the outer ring of ash after I gave my soles a spritz. Digging out the charcoal pieces was too hard to do standing up, so I found a dry patch of grass and sat down to do it.

"I guess you really wanted a new pair," Mom said.

"No, not really. Looks like I shouldn't have thought about them catching on fire the other day though."

"Well, those can be your burning boots. We'll get you a new pair since those were lost in the line of duty."

"You know, the guy I got these from said they'd last a year."

"Hmm?" Mom moved towards me so she could hear me better over the hose.

"When I got these the guy said they'd last a year. That most of the guys who bought them came back for a new pair in a year."

"That was a long time ago if you got those on North Street."

"Yeah, I got 'em at Jim's. When I was still working in film. So that was 2000, no, ten years ago. Not bad for a pair of work boots."

charred boot toecharred boot heel

A year ago on TTaT: Enough with the Christmas decorations!

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