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I can handle hat hair. I have gotten used to wearing four layers of clothing. I even can be fairly patient at the crack of dawn waiting to hear whether our school is closed.

But know what is really driving me nuts? The boot pile by the back door.

In an attempt to keep things dry and fairly orderly – Ha! – I have gone through dozens of rags. I have lined up boots and mopped the floor countless times. I have tried layering mat upon mat, placing carpet runners on the nearby ceramic kitchen floor and spreading old beach towels around the area.

Nothing works for long. Layering the mats in the small back hallway only prevented us from opening the closet door where we keep the basket of rags.

Even our most absorbent industrial-strength mat has tossed in the towel, beaten down by working overtime when people traffic peaks.

I am tired, and my socks keep getting wet.

We are only a family of three, but boots seem to multiply this time of year. Hefty hiking boots worn for snow-clearing appear to grow one size larger a day when parked by the back door. Winter mocs spill into the space reserved for UGGs. Salt-stained tall boots – mine – tip this way and that, causing further commotion. The boot tray purchased this year only fits two pairs of boots.

Don’t even get me started on dog paws.

Boots: 1. Humans: 0.

Most of the mess comes into the house from the floor of the attached garage, where we park our cars and all the gunky snow debris that’s accumulated on them during the ride home. Sure, we use a shovel to clear the floor and try to stomp off the dirty snow from our boots before entering the house. But some of it stubbornly insists on coming inside – just so I can step in it. It’s such a mess out there, I don’t think the walk-off mats in the garage by the back door will dry out until spring.

Adding to the inconvenience of it all is that some boots are just a pain to pull on and off. You have to tug them on to go outside and get the mail. You have to tug them on to walk the dog – or shovel the walk. How many times this week did I pull on my boots, zip them up, head out to the garage with my long down coat zippered up to my nose and realize I forgot something indoors – like an extra pair of gloves in the front hall closet?

Maybe, I’ll tell myself, if I wipe them off really, really well, I can tiptoe across the kitchen floor in them without leaving puddles. Maybe not.

Even the carpet runners by the other doors in the house are wet. That’s because, this week in particular, snow blows in when you open the door to retrieve the paper or a package.

I guess we could come up with another way or place to store our boots, but I also realize that snowy boots are to be expected. Winter is messy, spring is muddy, and summer is sticky. And the shoes parked by the back door change with the season.

Soon, it will be sneakers and flip-flops. But soon enough?

Wipe your feet.

email: smartin@buffnews.com.