2017-05-24 / Loose Ends

Call to Collect

Gather ye pinecones
Susan Nienow

I am a collector. I have rabbit figurines, small vases and bowls, bottles and pretty boxes. None of these collections is ever going on eBay in the hopes that someone will bid thousands on it. The boxes are paperboard and used for storage.

The other collections were put together one piece at a time, none of them expensive or signed by an artist. They are for fun and to use if I ever need tiny vases or bowls.

Some people save ticket stubs, event programs, pictures or videos. Not me. I collect sticks and stones. They’re free if I don’t count the cost of a vacation or two. I don’t take them out of people’s yards or public gardens. I prefer wild rocks.

Several of them, while not boulders, are rocks I have sitting in my flowerbeds. One is red granite from Canada, another is gray slate from Pennsylvania (along the turnpike) and another is limestone from Ohio. I probably should have paid more attention in geology class, because the slate is coming apart layer by layer. I vaguely remember learning about those layers, but didn’t think the rock would come apart every time I touch it.

I was never the kid with pockets full of rocks when I was growing up, but I am now. Generally I try to find a plastic bag so my pockets don’t get dirty or stretched out of shape. Now the criteria is the rocks have to be either pretty or interesting.

I actually use the rocks for lining terrariums, as ballast to hold small plants straight, and to create designs in my flowerbeds. The great thing about rocks is that they don’t need to be watered or fertilized or transplanted.

Sticks are also free, except for the curly willow branches I bought at a grocery store. I actually have a curly willow tree, but it is just an adolescent, and these branches were much more interesting. We have plenty of sticks in our yard. One of my favorites came from the center of a rotting pine tree.

Other sticks came from the winged branches of sweet gum trees, the vines from old honeysuckle plants and different kinds of pussy willows. Storing them has caused some friction, though. My other half doesn’t like backing into my collection.

In fact, I have these sticks in vases and pots all around the house. That way I don’t have to take up a closet with them. I don’t have an empty closet anyway.

Though the collection is smaller, I also have quite an assortment of pinecones, from the 1-inch hemlock cones to the Southern pinecones that run 8 to 10 inches.

In the interest of passing along my interests, we gave my granddaughter a rock polisher for her birthday this year. You can’t start them too young.

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