Skip to main content

The Things We Collect

By April 18, 2018Adventures

Someone once described me as a collector, and I suppose they’re right.

The studio where I paint and write is full of things I’ve collected over the years. The shelves are lined with rows of hand carved decoys, old books, antique fly reels, and countless relics. The windowsills are overrun with bird and game calls. The walls are covered with photographs of bird dogs, mentors, family, and friends, most of them holding a fly rod or shotgun. There’s a ‘Blazo’ box from Alaska in the corner; it’s full of bamboo rods, landing nets, snowshoes, old gaffs, and my son’s .22 rifle.

Behind the wood stove is a beer crate of rocks and other relics… at least one from every river I’ve fished. I believe that the spirit of these rivers, and the fish that live there, are alive in the rocks; that they need only to be placed in water to tell their ancient tales.

On my desk is a big glass cookie jar, the kind you might see on the counter of an old general store. Lisa calls it my “Boo Radley Jar” because it’s filled with the little treasures that no one but a child or an innocent would think to keep.

There are pocketknives and bass plugs, dog collars with bells, an old baseball, harmonicas, bootlaces, and buttons from many a retired canvas shirt. The bottom of the jar is layered with coins from far off places where I’ve knocked around, a few grouse feathers, and much more.

It’s full of memories.

Some people would consider my world cluttered, but I don’t feel encumbered. It seems that everything around me has a story to tell, and it’s a warm and welcome feeling to be surrounded by my past. Particularly so, when I use so many of them as props in the images I create.

The rusty tin cup on my desk, for example, was found at my first river camp in Alaska. Since then it’s been used as a prop in numerous drawings and paintings.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Good stuff Bob, I surround myself with such things also, I suspect many of us who love wild places and adventures do. Last weekend I was rooting for something in my barn and wound up sitting in front of a 5 gallon bucket of hunting arrows that go back to the early 60’s for the best part of an hour. In the early days I wrote the date and things like buck or doe and where the hunt was. As years went on the memories were so obviously vivid that sort of thing was not needed, each arrow whether bent or broken told the entire story as I held them in my hands.

    Robert Ruark could not have been more correct when he wrote, “The best thing about hunt’n and fish’n is that you don’t actually have to be doing it to enjoy it”. Memories and the things we hold onto spark those memories.

  • Charles Cantella says:

    My daughter just read To Kill A Mockingbird. She got excited by the Boo Radley reference!
    Great piece as always, Bob!

  • Gary Richardson says:


    Being a pack rat, I have collection of collections. Some are from father and his from be for him. I end reading the books my grandfather had and his before him. I have been going through history of family uncovering little items like book from the Chicago’s World Fair, and wondering what relative went there, and what day they may had. My grandfather when he was a kid use to deliver the Wright Brothers their news paper when he was a kid growing up in Dayton Ohio. They would let him hang out at there work shop, and I have a photo of him there. I found evidence from all the stories my dad and grandfather and had told me. It has me wondering what I should leave my nephew and his boys. And would they understand the importance of it.

  • Mike Yurk says:

    Dear Bob,
    I have two stones sitting in my office that I picked up at the Two-Hearted River reminding me of my favorite Hemingway story The Big Two-Hearted River.
    Good fishing, Mike Yurk

  • Darrell Anderson says:

    Been awhile since we talked or me visiting your website. Been retired for a year now so will stop by your studio someday to snoop around and shoot the breeze. Golfing and fly fishing the Namekagon taking up most of my retirement time and so far having a blast doing both. Talk to you soon. Darrell

    • Bob White says:

      Hi there, Darrell.

      It’s been a long time!

      Yes, please stop in anytime you’re passing through town. There’s always a pot of coffee on the stove.

      Warm regards on a chilly morning.
      Bob & Lisa

Leave a Reply