Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Collector

Throughout my young life, I collected things. Big things. Little Things. Soft things. Hard things. Normal things. Weird things (as if that is any surprise here).

Actually, I am a little surprised by the sheer number of objects that I once collected. Today, I will list as many as I remember, why I became obsessed with them, and why I stopped. See if any of my collections spark childhood memories of your own days when having just one was not enough to satisfy your mind.
Tadpole collecting: Because our house was built on the side of a large hill, we would get rain runoff that pooled between the upper field and the raised gravel of the driveway. Froggy mommies and daddies did their thing in this water, and baby tadpoles would swim happily. Unfortunately, this place dried out often, leaving only small puddles where the tadpoles congregated, helpless.

I carried two mason jars (one empty and one filled with water) to this spot. I used the empty one to scoop up the little ones and then dumped them into the water-filled jar. Once I had all the survivors, I transported them to a water hole where a natural spring welled up from the ground even during the driest of seasons.

During the evening hours, I leaned on the windowsill, listening to the gentle croaking and knowing I had a hand at the froggy symphony. I stopped collecting tadpoles when my father installed a drainage pipe to syphon off the water runoff, as the little tadpoles would take a trip down the hill to the ditch that lead into the creek.
Pinecone collecting: This is the reason I collected them. The reason I stopped was that too many of them kept getting stuck inside the pipe.
Coin collecting: This was not a big habit for me. The only ones I collected were 50cent pieces, Canadian coins, a coin from the Bahamas, and those pennies that said “One Cent” on the back. *shrugs*
Rock collecting: I do not believe there is any normal reason kids will hoard rocks. Yet I had the urge to do it. There was no particular type of rock I collected. Whatever one caught my eye I placed into my empty Pringles container. The ones I liked most would go on top. Yet my most precious one laid at the bottom: a piece of coal.

Why did I have a piece of coal in my collection? Because I had watched the old Superman movie where he crushed the coal in his hand and turned it into a gleaming diamond. Although I was not as strong as he was, I hoped the pressure from all the other stones would do the trick. I stopped collecting them when I found out just how long it would take for the coal to change into a diamond.
Butterfly collecting: I stayed with this one for a whole week because that was how long it took me to catch a butterfly. On that same day, I stopped collecting them when I found out I would have to push a pin into their bodies. I learned it was much better to watch a living butterfly flit from flower to flower than kill them and stare at their tiny corpses behind cold glass.
Feather collecting: I got my first feather during elementary school when our class went on a three-week camping trip. We were making corncob pipes and turkey callers when I found a turkey feather during a hike. From that day on, I searched our yard for feathers, any feathers, even if I had to run around the barnyard scaring the chickens trying to get them to shed a few. I never really stopped collecting outright. The urge dwindled away, and the chickens fought back.
Handmade Rorschach collecting: Yes, I collected those little personality inkblot tests where a person stares at the blotch and says it looks like two people dancing, though we all know that every one of those splotches looks like a squashed bug on a windshield. Well, I made those splotches as a kid.

With papers in hand, I would go outside to my favorite large flat rock. Then I walked around the yard, searching for a particular weed. This weed would create inedible purple berries. I grabbed the bottom of my shirt, hoarded the berries in the makeshift basket, and returned to my rock.

I deposited a berry onto the paper, folded it over, and smashed it with another rock. Viola! A Rorschach. By the time I used up all the paper, my purple fingers were tired from smashing rocks together and I had run out of berries. I headed inside the house, did the customary hand washing that did nothing to get rid of the stain, and threw my tie-dyed clothes into the hamper. I stopped the collecting when my mother threatened to take away my allowance because of all the clothes I ruined.
Glass Figurine collecting: I collected fantasy figurines: dragons, unicorns, and pegasus (or is it pegasi?) My mother started this one for me since glass could not stain clothes like berries. Unfortunately, glass is fragile and the shelf unit that I had them on tipped over. I still have a few today. Yet the urge is not there for me to start this habit again.
Well, that is the end of my list. Tell me what you collected when you were a child.


  1. Books and CDs is all I collect. I still collect them. I was never very creative - or maybe lazy - to collect anything else.

  2. How COOL would you have been to have as a childhood friend? LOVE the berry-made Rorschachs. Awesome.

    I was so insecure, I collected the "cool" things - stickers, those plastic charm necklace things (akin to Croc decorations today, sort of).

    Now I'm an anti-collector - the only thing I amass is books.

  3. Michelle, loved this nostalgic post. The part about the tadpoles would be great placed in a short story about childhood or coming of age. So rich with possibilities! I collected rocks and still do, oh, and feathers and bird eggs. :)

  4. I agree with Angie, this was a beautiful post.
    I don't do collecting myself and am attached to only a few things.

  5. Darlin', I still collect wheat pennies (those pennies that say "one cent" on the back.) Makes getting change fun, but you find one only once every couple of months maybe, so it isn't obsessive.

    Great list.

  6. I did the coin collecting thing as a child, mainly coz the Ol' Man was in the AF and I was drug around the world at an early age... beginning at age eight. I persisted with that habit until I quit traveling a few years ago, and still have a gallon baggie chock FULL of loose change brought back from here and there. So when the economy REALLY tanks... I'll have some reserves. ;-)

    Nice post... and it brought back a lot of memories in addition to that one, above. All I collect these days is dust, tho.

  7. Aside from dust, you mean?

    I collect gum wrappers so that I could make paper necklaces and bracelets. There must be more but I'm blanking.

    I do pick up and keep all feathers that happen to be in my path. So does Frank. Blame him - he started it. ;)

  8. That is so funny, as I was a collector too, as a child (and now as well! I have SO MUCH STUFF!)
    I also used to collect butterflies at one point and coins as well. Furthermore napkins, stamps, bubblegum comics (there used to be comics with bubblegum wrapping when I was a child), candy wrappings, pressed flowers, dried flowers, old cinema tickets. I am sure there is more, but I just can not recall it. Will get back to you on that one.;))

  9. My brother is a collector of all manner of things...including rock - of which i STILL collect rocks -and fossils - I love rocks and fossils and have had to restrain myself from putting rocks all over my little log house - well, they are all over the little log house, but I still restrain myself from adding more!

  10. I did the rock collecting thing for a short time -long enough that my Mom bought me a book about "Rock collecting" for Christmas and my interest waned shortly thereafter. One summer, I collected insects too -for a 4-H project. That only lasted for that program's duration as I learned I really didn't like to catch, much less handle, insects. When I was about 10-12 years old, I decided I wanted to collect cups -with saucers. I still have t hose I started out with, along with a cup/saucer my Mom's youngest sister gave me to add to my collection and from time to time, over the years, I might have added a few more, here and there. Still have them, yes -in my china cupboard and I still love cups/saucers as well as coffee mugs too. But I've cut way back on the idea of being a serious collector of those things too since I don't have adequate space to store the stuff and no place where I could have a shelf-unit put up to display them either that would be safe from the potential for damage that these two little hooligans who live here with me could do to things like that! I'll pass the on to my daughter, Mandy, so when I'm gone and her kids are grown, maybe she will find a safe spot to show them off and who knows, maybe even add to them too -in my memory ya know!

  11. Ello: I don't collect anything now accept Japanese anime movies, and I don't really collect the dvds themselves but just keep a running list of all the movies I have watched. I am up to about 78 now. :)

    Aerin: OMG! *slaps forehead* How could I forget my sticker albums? I had four of them, each one different: fuzzies, sparklies, pets, and fantasy. Wow. Thanks for reminding me. I don't think I did it for the cool factor. Not a lot of kids in the neighborhood had such an interest, at least they never told me about it. :)

    Angie: I never thought about that - using the tadpole in a short story, or a long one for that matter. And it would be interesting since it would have a girl character, which people don't normally associate with frogs. I'm going to have to keep this tidbit in mind. Oh! Bird eggs. I remember those, although I did not collect them. I did find one, and thought I could make it hatch by keeping it in bed with me at night. I guess I don't have to tell you what happened. Yuck! ;) Nice photo!

    That damn expat: Collecting things is a strange activity. I don't know what drove me into doing it since I never shared my collections with other people. Maybe it was just the overall sense of finding something special and holding it that allured me into most of these. Of course, you could say that you collect followers to your blog! :)

    Jim: Wheat pennies. Thanks for letting me know what the actually name is. I had about ten of them, the oldest was 1939. I am down to one now, dated 1950 (and used for the picture.) I should mail it to you. At least then I would know someone would enjoy having it. I hope your cold gets better! Take care of yourself, dear. :-)

    Buck: Change from around the world, now that is a hobby! But I hope the economy doesn't tank that much for you to have to use them, it would be a real shame. As for collecting dust, I suppose you are still upset about the one post I did where I vacuumed up the sex worker bunnies. If the situation happens again, I'll make sure to send them your way. ; - D

    Hilary: *What's with all the dust references? lol!* I never knew you could make necklaces from gum wrappers. Huh? I'm surprised you didn't mention photos considering the collection you have on your blog. Oops, you're going to make me go to Frank's blog (not that I don't anyway) and tell him what you said about the feathers. ;)

    Protege: Please do get back to me on this, because some of these items reminded me of collections that my siblings had. My older sister did pressed and dried flowers. I also remember bubblegum comics, Bazooka Joe - which I am sure other readers here are familiar with, which would smell just like the pink gum that was as hard as a brick to chew. The company encouraged kids to buy and collect because they would offer items, such as hats and t-shirts, depending on how many wrappers you sent in to them. :)

    Kathryn: All in moderation with the rocks! ;-) I think fossils is a cool thing to collect. I always kept my eye out for arrowheads in the yard. Never found one, but at least I looked. :)

    Jeni: It's wonderful to collect things, like those cups/saucers, to pass along to the younger generation. I am just amazed on how serious some people can be with their collecting, especially when done for the value of the item. I never saw collecting in such a way like this. Better to enjoy it then worry about how many quick bucks I can make. :-)

  12. As for collecting dust, I suppose you are still upset about the one post I did where I vacuumed up the sex worker bunnies.

    Well... now that you mention it... ;-)

  13. Loved this topic! I've been collecting things all my life. The only hard part is that you run out of space and then have to get rid of things and that part of collecting it T*O*U*G*H.

  14. Buck: sigh... I WILL make sure to send the next dusty pole dancers your way! Promise! ;-)

    Towanda: Yes, but just think how your collection will make someone else smile. Continue the cycle and recycle. *okay, that just sounded too silly* lol!


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