Friday, February 10, 2012

Home Again

I got the best package in the mail today!!

My LL Bean boots came back from the LL Bean repair shop!!

They got new souls, new laces and 2 new inserts.

Cost: $42 bucks. Worth every cent.

They are BETTER than new because they already fit me like a glove and are already broke in.

3 weeks ago I gently packaged them and sent them off to Maine, with an apology note explaining the mouse nest and collection of wild grass seeds that filled both boots. 
Obviously a mouse had methodically built a wonderful warm nest from my dogs hair inside the GoreTex boots (smart mouse) and had a winters worth of food in there as well.  I suspect this happens a lot to footware that has been waiting around since 1984 for repair.

Why did I wait so long to do a very simple thing, you ask....

Well, there is a very good reason why I was afraid to mail these particular boots away from me.

In 1974 I was in high school and working a weekend job for minimum wage. It took me a year, but I finally saved enough money for my first pair of boots.
I drove to Maine and got my water proof, super warm boots.
A few months later I also got my first Golden Retriever puppy.
Ruby was the light of my life.  We were inseperable.
One day Ruby found my LLBean boots.
She left her"signature" of puppy chew marks on the boot tabs.
Unfortunately, Ruby died of liver failure at age 5.
Every time I put those boots on I thought of her.  Every time.
With my rugged life, the bottoms wore out 5 years after Ruby left.
The boots were no longer safe on snow, ice, or leak proof, so instead I wore them as slippers after I would take off my other boots at the end of a long day.
Over the years I went to college, moved to Florida, moved back to Vermont, traveled and explored various jobs and states. No matter where I went I always brought my worn out, unusable LL Bean boots with me.
Because every time I looked at the tabs with her puppy teeth marks on them, I would think of those days of running through fields, swimming in lakes, bringing the cows in to be milked, moving sheep to new fields and searching for missing hens, hidden stagecoaches and feral hogs.  Our magical solitude on a mountain many decades ago.

I feared if I mailed the boots for repair that they would get lost in the mail, or LL Bean would replace the tabs.  I couldn't risk it.

I couldn't lose that moment when a 10 week old puppy left me an important reminder that life is short and not to sweat the small stuff like a puppy chewing on your expensive boots.

So what made me change my mind to send the Ruby boots to LL Bean?

I read a review of a  LL Bean customer who returned her boots for repair. There was a"before"photo and an"after"photo.  It was clear that one of her boot tabs was missing in the before photo.
And low and behold in her"after" photo, that included new soles and inserts, there was NOT a replacement tab added to her boots.

I packed my boots up the next day, wrote a check along with the mouse nest appology note and mailed it all.

So when the box arrived today, I ripped it open and found this:

I'll never forget you Ruby.  Never.

Thank you LL Bean.  Good Job.


  1. Love this sweet little post! I have had some pets that have been dear to my heart too. That's a great story ... and so wonderful you'll get a whole new life out of those great boots!

  2. Janis, what a wonderful heartfelt post, Ruby would be proud. Yesterday I spent a few hours at Beans and I was amazed at the many different styles of boots they now offer. I still own my original Bean boots, but now I also own a pair of slip on Storm Chasers. Love them, great for weigh-in day at Weight Watchers!

  3. I don't know if this is a good boot story or a good dog story. I'd rather see it as a wonderful memory and tribute to a dear old friend. Wear those boots in good health.

  4. You write a good story Janis.

  5. It's funny the things we remember. Some other person would have tossed those well loved boots a long time ago. I kinda feel like you do. Some things just need to be kept.

  6. Hi Janis,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    Great story, on a couple of different levels ... One I did not know I could get my boot soles replaced ... they sure do get slippery ... LoL! And two ... thanks for the memory recall on all of my goldens .. that came before my current golden boy Ernie!
    I love the breed.
    I will check back to see your ducks.
    Have a great week and stay warm.

  7. You were very brave! I know the feeling of wanting to keep such precious memories safe and untouchable. Wear them with much love and with a smile in/on your heart!