Before I left on my last trip to Oregon, I stopped into REI for some last minute purchases. We both needed raincoats because living in the desert for 25 years means we don’t own such things. I tried on about a dozen or so raincoats before settling on a bright turquoise number with a detachable hood and a cool little pocket in the lapel specifically made for my mobile phone and earbuds. As I gathered my things to check out, a glimpse of red in the shoe section caught my eye: the holy grail of weird shoes. Blood-red leather Keen Mary Janes, with rainbow-striped cross-straps and toe caps the color of pink limestone. If the fact that they were weird didn’t thrill me enough, the fact they were on clearance pretty much meant those shoes were going home with me that day. I justified the purchase saying I needed a new pair of traveling shoes. Shoes I could easily slip in and out of in the airport security line “like a boss” and signaling to other passengers that I was a Very Seasoned Traveler.
We arrived in Portland on a grey and drizzly morning, with the rain falling in fits and starts and the sun peaking out intermittently from behind the clouds. At the airport I began to have some misgivings about my decision to wear brand new shoes while traveling when they began to rub against a tender spot right above my big toes. I wrote it off as just my imagination, or at worst, the result of my feet swelling during the flight.
Since it was early and we weren’t able to check in to our vacation rental for a few more hours, we found ourselves happily stranded in Southeast Portland with time to kill. So we walked, and walked and walked, while the pain in my feet, by this time bright-hot and throbbing, had escalated to such an acute level I thought I might cry real tears right there in the middle of the sidewalk. And then, a mercy: a bookstore attached to a coffee shop promised sweet relief and we ducked inside. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to simply stop walking, grab a book and sit down.
These shoes are not Las Vegas shoes. Las Vegas ladies will wear six-inch stilettos to the grocery store, no joke. But in Portland weird shoes are everywhere! All around me were my weird shoe Kinfolk. Uncomfortable as the shoes were, I wore them like a banner. I even wore them with weird socks. I let my weird shoe flag fly.
I wore the shoes with socks for weeks until they were pliable enough to not make me weep. It took a couple of months before the scars from the blisters earned on our trip finally faded.
When I wear them here, people look at me funny. Just the other day, I put them on and my husband said, “oh, you’re wearing those?” Why, yes, yes I am. But then there are days when I’m out and about, I run into my kinfolk, and we exchange knowing glances. The shoes have become for me a connection to my favorite place. Like a beacon in the universe announcing that while my body might be here in Las Vegas, my feet are firmly planted in Portland.
One of the books I grabbed that rainy day in Portland was Shake, by Eric Prum and Josh Williams. This book is a vacation for the eyes and I was immediately drawn to the authors’ spare and clean aesthetic. The cocktails in the book are as simple and clean as the photography and divided into sections reflecting each season.
Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour
The recipe for this Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour is lightly adapted and found in the section entitled “Autumn”. Though it is technically wintertime now, the drink is still timely, as rosemary grows year round in our garden and the lemons on my tree are plump and ripe for the picking. It’s a cozy drink, burnished with bourbon and maple syrup and fragrant with crushed rosemary.
Adapted slightly from Shake by Eric Prum and Josh Williams
- 2 ounces Bourbon, I used Bulleit Bourbon
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce maple syrup (the real kind, not pancake syrup!)
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Lightly crush one sprig of rosemary in your hands until fragrant and place it into a cocktail shaker. Add the bourbon, lemon juice and maple syrup, then add ice until the shaker is half full. Shake until well mixed, then pour into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with an additional rosemary sprig and a slice of lemon.