This might sound odd coming from a guy who sports the same well-worn set of combat boots every day, year in and year out (compliments of my son-in-law, Capt. Andrew), but I hold a fairly impressive collection of shoes. Not a single one of them has a match, however, and truthfully, I don’t even know if they make them in pairs. If anything, they probably come four to a set like tires for an all-wheel drive SUV. What I do know is that when the summer sun bakes the chip and seal into a bubbling mat of tar sprinkled with kitty litter, horseshoes stick to it like a hornet on fly-paper—and that’s how they become part of my collection.
I’ve found dozens of horseshoes over the years and while a tiny amount of logic tells me to hang the thing on a nearby fencepost because the horse may be back by, an overarching superstition requires that I take that sucker home and hang up in the shape of a "U" so the luck won’t run out of it. (The majority of my finds are mangled in such severe fashion that they’d end up on the scrap heap anyhow.)
Finding a horseshoe can change my day from just another slog on the well-worn path of life to a joyous glide across the countryside. My own protocol requires that I stop, pry the shoe out of the pavement, snap a picture of my location and then send the photo off to my far-flung kin letting them know that a dose of good luck has just befallen the family. A portion of that good luck is likely expended in the process of making it home safely while carrying a tar-covered, nail-spiked chunk of steel directly over my kidney in my back jersey pocket, but there seems to be plenty left to go around.
A few years back, after mindlessly hoarding my first full score of horseshoes, I decided that I would one day summon my rudimentary welding skills to fashion some sort of sculpture as a tribute to the horses that have sacrificed their footwear for my good fortune. (Not really! I mean the sculpture part is true, but I wouldn’t trust a horse any further than I could send him with a roadmap and proper set of instructions. Horses hate me, and my own affection for them ends about a half-inch above the roadway where the steel meets the hoof.)
A tiny handful (or would that be hoof-full?) of shoes from my collection have journeyed far beyond the sculpture stockpile, safely stowed in the duffle bags of certain soldiers as a token to charm their travels overseas and back. I’ve also handed lucky shoes to friends facing challenges. Even if folks view my good luck gesture as nothing more than a hunk of hooey, it might at least imbue a bit of optimism and good will. My latest find and its ultimate recipient carry the whole "lucky horseshoe" thing to a level even I couldn’t have dreamed up. Come back next week read all about it!
(Be sure to check out the time-lapse of Kristin’s illustration for this week’s column on Facebook at JohnLorsonSendHelp or KristinArt Personality Portraits.)