These are the shoes my son, Harrison came home with from college.
Not in a suitcase or backpack or trash bag, but on his feet.
“I didn’t have enough money.” He answered when I asked why he didn’t just go out and buy himself a new pair. “I was saving what I had left for food.”
“I would have sent you more, you know.” I said.
“I know, but I like these shoes.” He justified.
I looked down at his old, decrepit running shoes and couldn’t wait to throw them out but then I thought of Pelee and the famous “Shoe Tree”.
A strange species of tree indigenous to Pelee Island, you can find this rare specimen on the northwest corner of the Island, where West Shore Road bends to meet up with North Shore Road. The Shoe Trees (a second one has sprung up to handle the large quantity of donated/retired/abandoned shoes) sit on a privately owned property and are a long standing tradition. How this tradition started, I’m not quite sure. I’ve never stopped to ask. But every type of shoe adorns its branches; sandals, work boots, runners, even a pair of skates, hang swaying in the westerly breezes that blow in off the lake. Tourists from all around, stop at the side of the road to take a picture and admire the Shoe Trees in all their glory.
I look down at Harrison’s feet, the rubber soles of his shoes flapping like big, fleshy lips, seem to talk to me,
“Take us to Pelee!” they beg.
“Come on,” I say to my son, “we’re going shopping.”