Sunday, 28 August 2011

next installment

The bundles I made on the beach sat for a few days on the wooden veranda of the place I was staying.

Meanwhile, I wove a little and fiddled about with some of the things I'd collected.

I read, in Robert Macfarlane's The Wild Places, about why he collects things from the various places he visits.

My habit of gathering stones and other talismans was a family one. My parents were collectors. Shelves and window-sills in my house were covered in shells, pebbles, twists of driftwood from rivers and sea. For as long as I could remember, we had picked things up as we walked. Humdrum, everyday rites, practised by millions of people…. Now, though, collecting offered a way both to remember and to join up my wild places…. The objects seemed to hold my landscapes together, without binding them too tightly.

Of course, many people collect things when they walk, but perhaps we do this for different reasons? Do we do it to take a tangible thing from a place to aid our memory? Does it makes us feel we own something of that place? This must satisfy something within, to take a little piece of a place away. I wonder at these little items: a pebble, a shell, a feather. On this trip there seemed to be a theme of colour and form that developed in the things I chose to pick up.

I find satisfaction in laying the items out, arranging them in a way that shows them off in their simple beauty and allows me to see them, watch the
m, get to know them.

Then the mist came down and the distant hills disappeared. Sea and sky merged. Every so often a boat slipped passed and then a submarine emerged out of the gloom and drifted around ominously.

A wet day seemed right for a garden visit, dripping and steaming. At least the midges weren't too bad! As well as its celebrated walled kitchen garden, Inverewe has some lovely trees, including various eucalyptus and one had kindly dropped some multi-coloured leaves. These later got bundled up in paper and silk, were steamed and then added to the collection of curing bundles on the veranda.


  1. Thanks for mentioning the book. Never heard of it but since I am a big time collector of shells and stones I think I need to read this one.

    Have a lovely sunday evening.

  2. It is a wonderful book, really about 'wildness'. As he visits a whole range of different wild places (slowly coming to realise that wildness is all around us and not just in remote places) he has a thread of collecting as part of his experiencing these places. This book means a lot to me, having visited many of the places he goes to. There are a whole load of little gems in this book, which may well make an appearance here at some point!