PS *This is the key. When I say 'The mud on your shoes tells me that you took the short cut across the fields', 'tells' is a metaphor; we all know that mud can't talk. What you choO**se to personify or (the opposite) reify, is up to you. If your context justifies that metaphor, the language doesn't (can't) stop you from using it.
PPS **Abject apologies for this typo!
Student or Learner