Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Bees Knees...

Many, many years ago, I let slip to my family that I wanted to be a beekeeper.  At the time, I was reading Sylvia Plath; her poems are full of bees and beekeeping.  And the bee is a constant symbol for Emily Dickinson, another of my favorite poets.  Somehow, keeping bees (though I don't know how anyone can "keep" a bee) seemed romantic, and, besides, who would pass up all that honey?

That, of course, was before I did my research and discovered how much time and effort beekeeping requires.  Trust me...I have six books on bees and beekeeping, and I know I don't have the time to properly look after them.  But the notion is still one I harbor. I'm thinking about getting Mason bees to satisfy the urge.  These bees don't make honey; they live in paper tube condos instead of hives, require little attention, but are good pollinators for gardens.  And I need them for my gardens.

But, the damage has been done.  My sisters, who love to shop, have been giving me "bee" things--garden ornaments, birdhouses, bird feeders, candleholders.  This week, when I stopped to visit my mom, she gave me a bag from one of my sisters.  I'm now the proud owner of a bee chip-and-dip set!  The only thing I've contributed to this unplanned collection is a bee windsock that hangs in a tree in my backyard. 

Most of my "collections" were unplanned.  I have two shadowboxes of thimbles--my former mother-in-law started that.  I have masks--my aunt started that.  I have China cups and saucers and green teapots--I think I started those.  I bought most of my teapots in the flea market in the French Quarter over several years.  My friends scope out the China cabinet, and then I get these wonderful little gifts to add to my collections.

My biggest collection, as you might guess, consists of books.  I have more books than I can count; I still haven't unpacked all of them.  I don't have the bookcases for them, and, to accommodate them, I need built-in bookcases--floor-to-ceiling--in every room of my house.  Some of them are so old (before acid-free paper) that I'm afraid to open them because they might crumble into bits.  Some of them are irreplaceable--they've been out of print for ages. 

I know--I can find nearly anything in print on the Internet.  But that doesn't quite equate.  I like the leisure of sitting in a comfy chair, reading a book.  The Internet is great for research, but, for pleasure, I'd rather engage in the physical act of turning the pages.

I wonder where this urge to collect comes from.  I don't take my things out of the China cabinet or the shadowboxes and admire them.  Really, I hardly think about these things until I have to pack them to move.  Then I wonder why I keep them at all.  What they  do, though, is evoke memories, so that, when I take them out and look at them, I remember who gave this to me and when.  They are the tangible evidence of my connection to people who are important to me. 


Maureen O'Neal said...

Oh, Ms. Smith, I feel your pain. We are avid LSU fans, and you can tell the moment you step into our home. What started out as a simple LSU flag for our home has turned into the equivalent of an LSU memorabilia store. Everyone buys us LSU-everything; we have coasters, lights, golf bags, throws, you-name-it-we-have-it.

I finally had to break the news to family and friends--ENOUGH! I have started re-gifting these items back to the buyers. (They understand.)

-Maureen O.
Eng. 226

Cathy Johnson said...

Ms. Smith,
I feel your pain too! I started this bell collecting idea about 16 years ago, after seeing my ex-mother-in-law's beautiful collection. I said "what a neat idea." I began collecting a bell here and there wherever I traveled and received as gifts for holidays. I finally collected enough and started a rumor of collecting bears at my job. Oh, well, I have so many bears of different sizes and shapes I ran out of room on my hutch to place them. They are packed in a big bag in my closet. I too think of getting rid of them each time we move, but I cannot part with them because they do remind me of people important in my life and who can resist bears? Not me. I also collect angels, of which my current mother-in-law bestowed upon me on any occasion of the year and sometimes just because. I too ran out of places for them. I am a book collector, though I haven't been lately, school and work take presidence. I love Dean R. Koontz mystery novels. I currently have them packed away for when I finish school. Reading is my escape from everything.