It has taken me a long while to get back to this site- after it being mysteriously frozen and then my computer seizing up completely- hmmm, must have been that Declaration of Independence…. anyhow, am back. Saw my adorable little nephew the other week. He was wearing what his father called “Homosassa Reeboks”- grey rain boots (I think that’s what they call them- galoshes maybe?) I know them as Wellington Boots. They became very trendy in the hunter green color to Brit yuppies in the 1990’s. I bought my first pair, grey as the Corfiot winters, in a shoe shop in Corfu Town, on my little Greek island. I needed them for when I was mixing cement. The asvesti (lime) you added to the sand and cement ate away at everything- fingernail polish, shoes, toes- so a shoe you could hose down along with the buckets and shovels was what I needed.
I gardened a lot in my mountain village of Viros, everyone did. So I wore the boots while watering the plants, tending the veg, cutting down the thicket in the backyard. It was a large thicket- I founded the ruins of a small house and a fresh water well in it! Later, I wore them while milking the goats, cleaning out their house and collecting the eggs from the chickens. I wore them on my long hikes through the mountains of Viros, where I used to take my dog, and anyother dog I happened to be dog-sitting for the winter, down into the valley and over the stream and up into the wilderness. The stream would be flowing like a Colorado river in the wet winters and dry as a bone in the summer, but I was fearless with those boots, forging forward even in foul weather, exploring the country side and abandoned buildings.
When I moved the Gastouri, I wore the boots for olive collecting, which I did every winter, spreading the gigantic black olive nets around 200+ year old trees. Some people wait for the wind to blow, but by that time most of the olives are past their prime. Here we had tall ladders and armed ourselves with long handled skinny headed rakes (think child’s sandbox rake head size). I’d scurry up the ladder like a monkey and literally rake the laden branches free of their beautiful bounty. When enough was collected, the village olive press truck would come by and collect them, and I’d follow on motorbike, still in my wellies- but everyone at the local olive press wore them, so I hardly looked out of place.
I used to cut grass up a terraced mountain side, again wearing the infamous wellington boots. I used a strimmer (weed wacker), as nothing else could go up and down the steep slopes. My arms would ache and burn by the day’s end, (probably the cause of today’s carpul tunnel syndrome) and I’d go to sleep, arms slathered in Deep Heat to try and soothe the pain. In the winter I would double up on socks- they’d fit in those roomy wellington boots, and keep my feet from freezing while I collected oranges, trimmed trees and other outdoor work. Most of the work WAS outdoors. Wearing those laborer boots often earned me the title of ” Albanian girl”- and this was by the Albanian laborers themselves, who could not believe an Anglos kopella would don such a fashion, nor carry 50lb rubber buckets of rubble….
I left my boots on Corfu–they were falling apart anyway. The past two years I have scoured the stores- Tractor Supply Company, Walmart, Seminole Feed Store, looking for a new pair of wellington boots for winter gardening- mucking out horse manure in flip flops is NOT cool! But I have yet to find the perfect pair- looks and low cost, and am resolved to being a flip flop farmer until that day, but I will continue the search…some things are just hard to replace. I just hope dear nephew gets good use from his new wellington boots…