I had to buy a coffee cup for work recently. My kids were with me when I shopped and helped me to choose. It was R who found the one he said was made just for me – not pretty flowers or ‘The perfect Mum’, but a picture of Oscar the Grouch holding a sign – “I Love Trash’.
Yes, I collect. I collect everything from bits of coloured paper (for scrapbooking/craft) to old bottles. My husband despairs of me, but he’s used to it after all these years. By far my favourite collection though, is my collection of Owls.
I’ve always loved owls; those great big eyes, the way they fly so silently through the night, the way they can turn their heads so far around – they’re just fascinating creatures.
My first owl worked its way into my heart when I was 21 (back when Noah was a lad). My older sister had given me some money for my birthday and I was in the city trying to find something that I could keep as a memento of being twenty-one. I was thinking a nice vase or a piece of jewellery or something like that. Then this little owl looked at me and I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure what my sister thought of my choice, but after that owls started coming from everywhere.
This owl, actually a candle, is from Swaziland. My younger sister did a year as a Rotary Exchange student in South Africa in the early eighties and they were taken for a trip to Swaziland. She sent me this. Of course, I’d never use it as a candle. It’s too beautiful.
This one is from Germany, a present from the same older sister whose money bought the first. I just love his haughty look. He’s one of the smallest I have, but he still stands out.
I can’t remember the name of the priory in England where this owl was made, but it was my own purchase to celebrate my first (and only) trip back to England in my mid twenties. To me, it had a look of stolidity and history about it that epitomised England.
Part of a collection of six owls, all the same, this one was given to me by my flatmate after her trip to Bali. It’s special because it was she who introduced me to my husband.
P and I bought a lot of things when we went to New Zealand a year after we were married, but this owl was our hope for the future – ‘we can let the kids play with this one’. We didn’t realise, then, how far away that dream of kids would be. And of course, even when we had them, they never did play with it.
This is special too – a Korean owl that we bought on our trip to bring our daughter home. We hadn’t seen any when we went to pick up our son, but on this trip I decided I had to have at least one Korean owl, so we trawled the markets till we found one. He’s probably not the best example of Korean jade carving, but I love him all the same.
These are just a few of around a hundred that peer out at me from the china cupboard. It’s a cupboard full of memories of people and places, each so different. Friends and family still buy them for me whenever they see them. I have an artist owl, a teacher owl, a band of musician owls, a milk jug and sugar bowl owl, owls made from shells, owls made of alabaster and a great big owl that stands in the garden and scares my cats. I just love them. I could lose my bits of coloured paper and old bottles without too much regret, but nobody’s touching my owls!