I’m all moved into the Well Fed Garden and excited to start getting ready for the spring growing season! In the meantime, I’ve been doing some writing for Kimbap Cafe and chugging through job applications. I’ve got a few good leads, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!
I wrote the blog below after a great boot-buying experience with Man-Mur Shoe Shop in Raleigh. Please keep reading to find out why my boots are among my best friends.
(I wasn’t paid by Man-Mur Shoe Shop or Red Wing Shoes to write this post. I just want to share awesome stuff with my little world.)
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I grew up running around barefoot as often as I could. I wore flip flops in the snow as a teenager and I stood up to get married in no shoes at all. I felt like a captive thing when I wore heavy sneakers or stifling winter boots, like wrapping my feet up for hours on end cut me off from some kind of sixth sense. I rejoiced over the popularity of barely-there ballet flats and Birkenstock sandals and owned an embarrassing number of both to get me through situations where I had to be shod.
Visiting my mom before moving to In Good Heart Farm, she pointed out I’d need boots if I planned on full-time playing in the mud. I grudgingly invested in two pairs, and I figured I would just have to get used to the sensation of locking my feet away in rubber and leather.
Those boots weren’t a jail sentence for my feet, though. It took a few weeks, but I realized that my boots didn’t take anything away from me: instead, they gave me access to landscapes I never had confidence traversing in sandals or sneakers. When I wore boots, nothing made me alter my path or second-guess my goal, not chicken manure or puddles or tall weeds. Boots made me realize my feet didn’t have to be wet or cold and, in fact, they made it a lot easier to be on my feet for hours.
I wore boots every day, all day, and before long it became weird to wear anything else. I felt powerful and unstoppable in my boots. My other shoes were cute, but I felt annoyed and disappointed by their lack of utility. Even wet pavement had them soaked through, and they just didn’t stand up to anything more interesting than walking to and from the car.
When I moved back to Raleigh recently, I realized I was spoiled for any other kind of footwear. I needed to pound the pavement looking for work, and I needed to feel comfortable and capable while I did it. I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything cheap: the farm taught me in a hundred different ways that cheap tools end up costing more in the long run.
I went to a local shoe shop, Man Mur’s, because I figured any place that specialized in repairing shoes would know good brands. I had zero intentions of committing to a purchase that day: I just wanted to browse and ask questions. It’s a credit to the quality of their customer service that I walked away with a perfect pair of Red Wing boots and two weeks later am still thrilled with them.
I’m embarrassed that I don’t remember the name of the man I worked with, but he was phenomenal. I explained to him what I wanted to be able to do in my boots, that I was willing to pay for quality, and that I explicitly wanted men’s styles, which, mercifully, didn’t faze him.*
He sized my feet and walked me through the pros and cons of various brands, including materials and construction. Because he does repairs, he was able to offer a great perspective on how good shoes are made. I decided I liked the Red Wing brand and was pretty much ready to go continue my research on my own. But he went a step beyond and found me a discounted pair that was not only size seven, but an extra wide seven, which was exactly what my broad farmers’ feet need. As soon as I slipped them on, I was hooked. He then oiled them for me, set me up with an extra pair of laces, and showed me how to train the tongue for best wear.
Two weeks later, I’m still thrilled. They’ve been superbly comfortable from the start with no break-in time and I feel like I’m taking my home with me every time I lace them up. Several miles of concrete and a little bit of mud later, the soles and tops look great. I’m already wishing for a pair of pull-ons to add to my closet since I don’t want to wear anything else.
But the best part is knowing I can go back to Man-Mur for repairs and recommendations. I figured they were good, but I didn’t expect to be taken so seriously or served so well when I stopped to browse. I seriously recommend you check them out, as they carry lots more than just great work boots, including a great selection of women’s shoes. They can also repair your favorite set of soles when you’ve worn them a few times too many. Frankly, I can’t wait to go back.
*Men’s bodies are the norm in farming and other kinds of physical labor, but I usually have to put up with a lot of frustrating condescension about wearing men’s clothes and shoes. My reason is there’s a lack of clothing and equipment for women made to the same quality standard as men’s. Green Heron Tools is the exception; I just wish they made clothes and shoes.
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