Winter Is Only as Bearable as Your Boots

One day in November, on the same day that Mike and I attended to our pile of mending, Mike also prepared his boots for winter. I tend to treat mine when I put them away for the summer, but Mike wears his all year and waterproofs them right before winter sets in.

When we were on the farm in Washington, Mike invested in a pair of Wescos. There are a number of high-quality companies across the United States, places where skilled craftspeople still make their footwear by hand. West Coast Shoe Company is one of them. Favored by loggers, welders and motorcyclists, they are built to last.

When Mike bought his Wescos at their showroom in Scappoose, Oregon, they didn’t offer high-tech silicon sprays or other chemical compounds; they gave him a bottle and a jar of beeswax-based sealants. Every fall, he rubs the solid beeswax into the leather, and then he drips the liquid wax onto the stitching, tilting the boots slowly so it soaks into every crevice. He removes the laces and false tongues, and covers every centimeter.

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We try to be a family that values quality over quantity; neither of us owns very many pairs of shoes and boots, but we own good ones. The process of caring for them reconnects us with each piece of leather, from the backstay to the toe cap. Refreshing shoes that are not meant to last one season and then be thrown away (or donated to a charity, the guilt-free way to throw things away …), but a lifetime, makes us feel like we’re at least putting a dent in our global impact. And the shoes reward us by keeping our feet warm and dry for another season.

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