When we visited my grandparents in Ohio, I loved their pouting house. That’s what they called the little single room structure, down a path from the main house. Picture two wooden steps going up to a simple door, opening into a room containing a big old bed with a fluffy mattress and comforter. One window with a gingham curtain, oval braided rag rug on the floor by the bed. Electric heater in one corner, big wooden desk with a lamp in another. Barely room to walk. Since there was no insulation and no wallboard, the interior walls showed the framing. Between the vertical wooden studs, horizontal braces acted as shallow shelves. They were home to all sorts of natural odds and ends my grandparents had collected.
Feathers, nest, broken eggshell. Rocks- rocks with fossils, rocks with crystals, rocks in smooth oval shapes, striped rocks. Pine cones, seed pods.
As a curious child I perused my grandparent’s old magazines and books, their barometer on the wall and all the little drawers of my grandmother’s sewing box. I loved their tin sloping cellar door, hot in the summer sun, and the collection of canning jars in the cool, earthen smelling cellar. I loved being allowed to go through my grandmother’s button box and the sepia photos in the curved-glass fronted cabinet in the front room. But it was the humble natural objects scattered along the pouting house walls that captured me. My grandmother and my grandfather had made a choice, visible. By holding onto a pine cone or a feather, keeping the best one and simply leaving it out to catch dust, gave me the idea that each object had some as-yet-unknown significance. It encouraged me to take another look, take a closer look. It encouraged me to value these items and to wonder about them.