i speak for myself, the gatherer of everything, but i know from experience that you, too, are a collector as well. i look around me this morning here in my little squirrel's nest of a home and wonder what it must look like to a stranger who might happen by, unannounced, and see this odd and random assortment of findings scattered about across the tops of tables, stuffed into boxes and drawers and onto shelves and every available level surface there happens to be in this house. i'm beginning to think of myself as one of those george booth new yorker cartoon characters, old and grizzled, peering out of a top window, surrounded by her eclectic assortment of treasures that might seem quite strange to anyone else. i do not, however, have bare light bulbs hanging from my ceilings; nor do i have fifteen cats milling about as i bathe from a claw footed tub, for those of you who are familiar with the cartoonist to which i refer.
if you were set foot into my studio - that is, if you could step into the studio, as it is quite small (an extra tiny bedroom) and stuffed to the gills - i think you'd either be able to understand and com- miserate, or be absolutely appalled. too, when i am working in there, i have to step up and over aspen each and every time i get up to find something, as he flops himself down in the one open three foot space in the middle of the floor. (and if you look closely at that disaster area that is my work space, you'll notice that when the photo was taken, i had perhaps five inches by five inches of clear table space upon which to work. that is most always the case, no matter how often i clear things away). i have things, wonderful things, tucked away into all sorts of lovely little drawers and boxes, but there are findings that are called just that for a reason - findings. why? because i'm astounded when i unearth them three years later, tucked away right where i thought i would be able to locate the special somethings when i needed them. oh, not so, not so. not at all. my mind knows how to fool myself better than anyone else, and i spend worthless hours of my ever-shortening life throwing things around in search of that one item i need for a project, that one thing i do not find until months or years have passed. yes. it is a problem. yes, i am spontaneous. yes, i do collect. and yes, i should meditate more often.
this house is full of nature, really, dragged in from out of there, into here....nests and sticks and rocks, dried bugs and as much as i hate to admit it, even a dried little frog. it is full of things made from nature, too, if i think about it long enough - vintage mother of pearl buttons carved from shell, ancient books covered in leather from animal hides, fluttery old paper that is made from towering trees. feathers float down from shelves, unmoored from their stations, and drift about in the studio as afternoon breezes have their way with whatever else is left unattached. you would think i was building my own nest in there. i suppose if i think about that long enough, too, i really am.
we all do our share of gathering, here and there - we bring things in, we take them out, we keep them for a while and then we let them go. it's healthier that way, i think, to not hold on so tightly, to give things their wings, to love them and caress them and then to send them on their way so that they can start their own collections, somewhere else - in some other place, some other brand new spot that is at first unfilled, sparse, uncluttered, with a penchant for echos and footsteps on bare floors... a place that will inevitably fill with the dreams, the memories, the things that we draw back around.
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.