The Story of the Red Clogs

Being an only child has its pros and cons. When I was growing up, I yearned for a sister – preferably a twin sister.

For some unfathomable reason, my parents were unable to deliver on my request. There were many times when I could’ve used an ally, or at least a hand-me-down jean jacket. But there was also a bright side to being A Lonely Only; I could choose any spot I wanted in the back seat of the car, there was less competition for the (rotary) phone and best of all, I got to travel. Early and often.

So it’s summertime and I am 8 years old and we’re driving in a rental car through Sweden. The first thing I recall is going to visit the Pings. I thought the Pings were an expat family from Asia now living amidst the lingonberries and elk. Turns out the Pings were a series of bucolic towns we explored — Norrkoping, Linköping, Jonkoping, and the like. I remember the smorgasbords replete with dark bread and herring (and not much to entice an 8 year old, especially one with an aversion to fish!). I recall visiting a large open air museum and zoo called Skansen where we adopted a dark blue glass bear. And another town, Eskilstuna, where my parents purchased a sizable and intricate metal candelabra that was meant as a wedding gift for our next-door neighbor’s daughter, Claire. (NB, the candelabra never made it to Claire. My parents became rather enamored with it and after dragging the spiky thing all the way back to Boston, I suppose they were entitled to keep it.)

But I digress.

What I remember MOST of all from that trip is that I fell head over heels for red clogs. Of course, clogs are to Sweden what coffee is to Seattle – omnipresent. But try to find RED clogs, in my size, at an affordable price point – well, let’s just say it might have been easier to search for the holy grail. We left Sweden with the blue glass bear, the candelabra and a space in my little girl suitcase where red clogs might have been.

The point of this story (you were wondering, weren’t you?) isn’t to elicit empathy about my unfulfilled childhood quest for cherry-hued wooden shoes. The lesson in the story only recently revealed itself to me.  My longing for those red clogs came from a pure and deep place within me. They made me happy. Very Happy. It was as simple as that. The clogs weren’t useful in the way rainboots are, no TV commercials attempted to sway me to acquire them, and I wasn’t trying to fit in with cooler kids at schools by owning them (have you ever spotted a “cool” kid in red clogs? I thought not…). Instead, my red clog crush was at the very heart of unique me — Alysa ­– untainted by what society expected or tried to get me to believe.

Thus, the red clogs have become my talisman. The red clog blog is an extension of that unadulterated joy and enthusiasm. I hope it’s infectious!  I look forward to sharing remarkable and unexpected things that surprise and delight, like my red clogs initially did for me all those years ago. I think of these, loosely, in terms of 3 categories; People, Places, and Plates. At the Red Clog Blog, you can expect to meet fascinating locals with their own traditions, see inspiring scenery from around the world, and drool over stunning dishes which are not only delicious, but representative of culture and location as well.

I’m so excited to have you join me. I’m donning my red clogs. Let’s hit the road!

P.S. – After more than 4 decades of a red clog-less existence, I am pleased to announce that I was recently gifted my very first pair of red clogs by my generous and thoughtful husband. In addition, my dad (and member in good standing of the original red clog search party) presented me with a lovely pin featuring a pair of red clogs, designed and created in Sweden, of course. I’d like to think it came from one of the Pings.