Over the weekend, I bought a pair of hiking boots.
Yes, I already owned a pair of hiking boots, but they dated to 1994, before I had children. They’re now two sizes too small for me.
This may give you a clue about how often I go hiking. Yet I never got rid of them. How’s that for hope?
My new boots are nothing like those boots. Ernest Shackleton crossed Antarctica in my old boots. These new ones are like giant sneakers, with Vibram soles that can take me over hill and dale.
At the REI store, on Memorial Day weekend, the overall freakout level was high—hordes of people were lit up with the prospect of new gear to get them through whatever adventure they were contemplating.
Many of us stood in the shoe department, contemplating our feet, climbing up and down the fake boulder to test our toe wigglyness. OK, I was the only one climbing up and down the fake boulder. Maybe everybody else had enough experience with actual boulders that they could suss out their fit in a more intuitive way. I hadn’t worn hiking boots since 1994—how was I supposed to know? Toes could be all different now.
I felt pretty good about my toe wigglyness, though my sales associate assured me I could bring them back in a month or more if something went wrong. “Sometimes you just decide they’re not right,” she said, solemn.
I’m all: you mean, I could conceivably have a great month with my hiking boots, then it all craters and the dream is dead?
She nodded. “The right boots are a big deal.”
YES. I suddenly got what was going on.
Love. Your. Gear. That’s what was going on at the REI store last weekend.
Maybe it was the two guys talking crampons—on a day when it was 94 degrees outside, not a glacier in sight. Or the woman standing in front of the fifty sleeping bags, hanging like banners, her face planted in a downy wall. They were so so so into it.
What does any of this have to do with knitting?
Everything! They love their gear the way I love my gear. Yarns, patterns, gizmos, a row counter in the shape of an alpaca—every bit of it is crucial.
I felt such kinship with these people. We’re all weirdos about something. Yes, sleeping bag lady, go with the North Face Dolomite 40! You’re gonna love that thing! You need it! It’s the one!
PS Up top, the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, a man who loved his gear. You can hear him tell a snowy tale of one of his expeditions here. It’s the most 1910 thing ever.