We have trudged a muddy path through winter. 588mm of rainfall this year compared to 250-odd at this time last year; so a hill of shoes recognisable as such through their coat of mud sits at the front door like patient dogs. Waiting for someone to clean them.
I do it. Not obsessive; I just like clean shoes. People ask me if I have new running shoes and I reply, no, I just cleaned them. I scrub them and then I put them in the washer, I tell them. You can't do that, they reply. Yes you can, I tell them. You just don't use hot water. If you scrub them well enough first they don't need it.
OK, maybe I am obsessive. Nine sentences about cleaning shoes. I should see a psychiatrist. Lie on the couch and tell me all about your shoes, says doctor. Is a psychiatrist a doctor? I don't know. I once had a brand new pair of Onitsuka Tiger X-Caliber GTs, I tell him. And the dog got them and destroyed them on the first day. They still smelled new. Red and blue flowing stripes on pure white fabric and that softly flexible sole they used to use pre-gel. They moved when you looked at them.
Merri Creek has become the playground of the north; at least of those within a rubbery five kilometres, or a half-hour round trip. It's like Bourke Street on a Sunday afternoon. In the 1920s Coburg Lake was a popular weekend venue for picnickers who came up from suburbs south, on one of two tramlines, or the train. Or they walked. It had gardens as pleasant as Baron von Mueller's in town, and a large pool of water overlooked by terraces of the same bluestone that enclosed the prisoners across Murray Road. And the water was clean. People swam in it. Then it fell out of favour because the factories that lined its banks further upstream dumped their old oil and paint, etc, in it. The creek path was eventually paved for walkers and cyclists, but that was only as recently as the late 1990s. Before that I used to follow its willow-shaded curves upstream to Campbellfield on an ill-defined track with the 1986-2001 dog, a Brittany Cocker cross called Monty. The shoe-eater. He ate a new pair of sunglasses once as well. $150.
I have a different route now. Quieter. Few people know about it. Wait, I posted about it a few weeks ago. I'm averaging 80 kilometres a week.
I still miss the shoes. Monty must have been bored that day. Maybe I forgot to take him on a 10 mile walk.