A good Thursday to you!
Things are coming along in the studio. I’m steady working towards launching the online shop. Sample pieces are in the works, the photoshoot is line up, descriptions are being written. All this is to say, we are still at least a month away. I know, it’s so hard to wait, isn’t it?
(Psst! Did you notice? Above, in the menu bar!? Under “SHOP” I’ve added a new link to my very first stockist! It’s a gallery north of us in Cowichan Bay, and the office for a whale watch establishment. It’s the perfect partnership, really. And over the weekend I had my very first retail sale **happy dance**!!)
I thought I’d share some thoughts that have been percolating since a conversation with a certain pirate-gypsy friend of mine. We talked of our mutual compulsion to gather and natural treasures. I don’t consciously collect anything, but because I’m obsessively drawn to some stuff, I have acquired a few collections. Since then I’ve been thinking steadily on why on earth do I do this?
I remember coming to the (shocking!) realization that not everyone shares this tendency. I’ve spent the day at the beach with friends who play frisbee as I fill my arms with sticks and slip pebbles and seashells into my pockets. What compels me to spend hours at the beach hunting for treasure between the rocks and waves? And why doesn’t everyone?
I like to decorate my home with these little pieces of nature. The china hutch in our dining room has been appropriated as my cabinet of curiosities.
Recent additions include:
the shell of a robin’s egg
a sundried brittle star found washed high and dry after a storm
sea glass worn smooth and frosted by a century of ocean tumbling
feathers from the wee juncos that forage under our backyard Douglas Fir tree
pebbles of the interesting colour variety
J no longer bats an eye at the cluster of white tail sheds on the coffee table, the pebbles in glass boxes on the side table, the arrangement of seashells in the bathroom (3 of them, always in 3s). In truth, I don’t think he notices anymore. But, for me, creating these wee vignettes is pure play. It begins with an emptying of pant pockets, a ransack of the cabinet of curiosities, a gathering of treasures.
I clear space.
I try this with that.
I take those out and add these.
I could spend the better part of a Sunday afternoon sipping tea, digging through my sea glass stash in this nimble fingered, light-hearted play. My way of celebrating the natural wonders of the world.
I feel connected to this place in noticing the subtle changes of the seasons, the lives of the creatures around me, noticing details no one else sees.
I’ve been thinking on this more and more; why I am driven to collect, to notice, why others are not.
What is it that makes something important to me?
What makes one thing inherently valuable and another not?
Is it rarity?
A trick of cleaver marketing?
Though a robin is a ubiquitous species and common sighting, finding one of their discarded egg shells is not. A chance encounter of a simple joy that marks spring in North America. Does this not hold value? Why do we, as a society, often celebrate the natural oddities like a golden Sitka Spruce (Public Library)?
Why don’t we pause to admire any tree?
Is it because we don’t know it’s individual history?
Do we had to be told of it’s value?
Is it not inherently obvious?
In paying attention to my
odd little habit, I’ve found a deeper appreciation for the natural. I’ve noticed a marker of time separate from technology in the change of the seasons, a reminder the rotational path our planet takes around the sun. I value the creature-struggle for survival known as living. Sometimes I almost forgot to slow down long enough to notice the small things, the minuscule, the detritus, the ephemeral bits. Of moss and lichen. Of wingbeats and new spring leaves. Of algae and salt. The secret lives.
In this way, these little pieces of nature begin to feel like a gift, to remind me of what I hold near and dear. And I am ever grateful. I now find myself wondering what I could offer in return…
So tell me…
Do you have a compulsion to collect? I’m here with you – you are not alone 🙂 Do you turn over stones in your neighborhood, peaking at the secret lives beneath? Are you fascinated by what most would walk right past, deeming unimportant – or even disgusting?
Inquiring minds (me) want to know!