Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Footprints

'Tepscams,' said Mira, 'make tepscams'. It took a while to figure this one out. I had to backtrack in my mind to the spill that occurred when she was watering my pot plants on the balcony. Then I got it: 'Oh, footprints! You want to make footprints.' Her face lit up.  'Yes, tepscams'.

And so I filled up the little watering can again and watched. First she poured water over the tiles. She stomped in the puddle; then on the tiles, making her mark with great glee. Over and over, more and more footprints.

I thought what a universal urge this is, to make a mark. Summer, of course, is footprint season. We throw off our shoes and roam down the beach, leaving trails of significance unravelling behind us. Trackers learn to discern the age, weight and type of an animal by the marks they leave. Our footprints are laden with information about whether we ran or walked, ambled or strode, moved heavily or with lightness.

On my kitchen wall I've stuck a photo taken by my friend Anne, of her right footprint next to mine. It's easy to see which is which. I like the photo: it speaks of our friendship over fifty years and the many trails we have trod since our school days. And now Anne has just sent me a book of poems written by a friend, with one of her photos on the cover. It's a photo of footprints. Mine. I don't know when she took the photo, but as I look at my own imprint in such an unexpected place, I wonder about who I was back then, and how my prints might have changed.

Film stars, when they reach the peak of their fame, place their footprints into concrete in the hall of fame: frozen identity, immortalised. The sun was shining as Mira made her wet marks on the paving tiles. By the time she came inside for lunch her prints were gone.

5 comments:

Marilyn said...

Yes our footprints can tell so much about us but they are often seen for a only a short time. I often think of all that our feet carry us through - all the ups and downs. At times they dance for joy and then there are the times they drag, when they are so weighed down with burdens.
I wrote about Jeff's aunt's feet in one of my earlier posts (copy & paste if you wish to view)
http://mymagpiecollection.blogspot.com/2010/07/jeff-with-his-aunty-dorothy-yesterday.html

juliet said...

Thank you for your comments and the link Marilyn. I enjoyed reading about aunty dorothy's slippers. Yes, our feet certainly do so much work for us.

lifeonthecutoff said...

Such a delightful way to spend time with Mira and how she remembered making footprints with you. It is those simple moments that bring such joy. I love this post.

Joan said...

Lovely jubbly fun with Mira.. how wonderful it is to spend time with a child and see through their eyes.

Anne Dean Ruffell said...

What I love about the poetry book and the photograph of the footprints is the connection it has made between two of my oldest friends who actually met one another in the 1960s in England. I well remember the day that I took the photograph at Te Henga because I was fascinated at how deep the prints were in the sand and how quickly they were washed away by the incoming tide. The date was 6th March 2008.