I’ve never been able to resist picking up things when I’m out on a walk – interesting pebbles, twigs with lichen on them, pine cones, berries, leaves. If you have to ask ‘Whatever makes a pebble interesting?’ this probably isn’t the post for you. Because us pebble-gatherers could give you a whole list of qualities: shape, colour, texture, got lines round it, got bits in it. Got a hole in it! Perhaps the world is divided into those who pick stuff up, and those who really don’t see the point.
My pockets are always full of bits and bobs I’ve gathered. I never visit a beach without finding something I can’t seem to leave without – shell, sea-glass, pebble, hag-stone, driftwood, fossil. Here are some of my treasures:
Windy autumn days provide a fantastic harvest, and there is always another leaf shape, another shade of yellow or gold or zingy pink that I haven’t quite got in my collection. Never mind that the collection withers and shrivels at home, that I wonder why I’ve got seven perfect shiny conkers lined up on the windowsill – and no kids in the house. Conkers are truly irresistible, and there is huge row of horse chestnut trees near my house where I used to take my children conker-gathering every autumn when they were small. I hope families still do that, but I haven’t seen any this year.
One of my sons used to pick up pebbles and sticks from an early age, leaning from his buggy as we walked through the park and gesturing for one more, not that one, that one! The seat filled up with treasure and the sticks often got stuck in the buggy wheels. We always had a collection of wizened and twisted wands outside our front door that Gandalf would have been envious of. He’s grown out of this habit now, but I haven’t.
This post is nothing to do with reading or writing children’s books. But collecting stuff is a passion I shared with my children, and I’m sure we will pass on.