When I was a girl I loved collecting the broken bits of robins eggs that I found near the trunks of the trees in my front yard. I would hold them in the palm of my hand and run my index finger over the smooth inner shell, hoping that the baby bird had hatched healthy, and was on its way to flying. I collected little bits of nature this way, hiding feathers, egg shells, dead bugs and dried flowers like a magpie in a shoebox in my closet. I had pulled the insides out an old stuffed animal that was tattered, and placed the specimens on the cotton like I had seen in museums.


If it was raining or I was tired of playing outside, I would often organize my books on their shelves, placing them in alphabetical order. I loved this self-ordered task, and the sun always seemed to shine brighter through my window when I was finished. I keep meaning to assign myself the same occupation now; I have many more books now and none of them are in order. Many of them are arranged aesthetically, since I love old books with rich design. I have a first edition copy of Charlie Harper’s Birds and Words, and it’s autographed. That book is placed on my mantle, with a small cloth-bound pocket grammar book and a 1918 guide to herbs (by “The Herbalist Joseph Meyer”, who in his picture looks like Stephen Colbert). On top of that small pile of books is a large piece of quartz, a small chunk of apatite, and a large, smooth rock from the Homer, Alaska spit.


When I arrange objects, whether they be books or natural artifacts, or the photographs I find, I get this sort of calm feeling. I never gave the feeling much thought, though it’s of the same variety as the cool robin’s egg blue feeling I get when I am writing. This blend of peace, harmony and creation is the fuel that propels me, and is the motivation for me to attend to my education. I will resume study this fall, filling my head with creative writing and information sciences. Maybe one day I will sit in a museum full of ancient smells and quiet books, putting beautiful and old things to their rites and creating publications that explain the history and the beauty of each object in the collection. I will go home at the end of the day with a full, warm, still sort of feeling filling my chest. So different from the usual frenzy of my heart and my actions and occupations. I am so ready for this.



7 thoughts on “Collecting

  1. Are you going back to school for Library Science? Oh, my god — that’s something that I’ve always aspired to —

  2. I am! I first must complete my undergrad in English/Creative Writing (with a minor in Information Science). UT Knoxville has a wonderful MIS/MLS program. There are several schools that offer completely online MLS programs – UT is one of them. You should look into it!

  3. Arranging and sorting, huh? That makes so much sense!

    I like to find a thing that has been in the bottom of a pile, and look at it (“unearth” is the word that springs to mind). I like to look through piles of photographs, old boxes of stuff. I like looking at other people’s photos (I always feel that I could put together their stories!).

  4. I’m like you when it comes to collecting organic objects. I still love empty robin shell. Have some on my desk right now, as a matter of fact. Happy organizing, my friend and happy 4th of July!

  5. I love to organize things, too. Sometimes I go into my daughter’s room when she is visiting her dad, sit down the floor and organize her toys she’s left out to make some sort of new “scene”. I also enjoy arranging her stuffies on her bed (she sleeps on the top bunk) so that when she gets home she sees them peaking out at her, enjoying their “alone” time-seemingly laughing and getting into mischief while she’s been away. And, most of all, I love to collect findings from the beach-bits of shells, rocks, and sand dollars that I then sprinkle around the edges of my yard where there is dirt lying-just begging for a bit of decoration! XOXO-SWM

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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