… I polish my boots.
I wear Docs when I’m gardening and they fall apart quicker if they’re not looked after. When they fall apart I have to spend pennies on new ones and then endure the pain of breaking them in. That’s the first reason I do it.
The real reason is my mental health. It’s hard for me to switch off at the end of the day, especially if I’ve worked hard and am tired. I have a tendency to go into over-drive, keep working and then not sleep. ‘Guard your sleep,’ is the best bit of advice a psychiatrist has ever given me. Sleep also acts as an indicator to my state of health – too much sleep and I may be getting depressed, too little and I may become hypomanic.
In Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I’m re-reading the series at the moment) Laura shows us her future husband, Almanzo, growing up on a prosperous farm in New York State. Every evening the family gathers round the stove and Almanzo greases his moccasins while they eat popcorn and drink cider. I’ve always thought this a lovely domestic scene. I’m sure they chatted about their day and maybe thought about tomorrow’s work.
Taking off my boots tells me that the working day is done. Polishing them the old-fasioned way with dubbin and a brush gives me time to think about the day that’s gone and wind down. Seeing them clean and shiny when I’m done gives me a little feeling of satisfaction and then I’m ready to curl up with a book till bedtime.