story collector

Today I was a story collector. People like to collect things when they visit places. Andy’s cousin collects cookbooks. My brother collects marathons. Tam collects rocks. I collect stories.

It began with stories from books and scripture. Then I collected stories from devotions and blogs. News stories were added next. I wanted to go for a walk along the water, so I checked with the hotel staff. They shared a story of cross country skiing and using snow shoes to walk along the break water.

Stories of characters from a fiction project started softly stirring as I walked and snapped photos and stepped through too deep snow.

I collected stories from art at the Farnsworth Art Museum. Absorbing the paintings, imagining different worlds, catching snippets of conversations around me.

Stories from Brenda and Heather and Deb fortified my morning as we went from the art museum to little shop and little shop and lunch. I collected their stories, and shared some of my own, over crab rolls.

A clerk at the museum store shared the story of paint color in the museum. She gushed and smiled and teetered on and on about the pops of color and how much it warmed the art. We asked her for a recommendation of what not to miss. I collected a story about the library in Camden.

I stood along the water, playing with photography, listening to the water crash, wondering about the stories of the wharf and the boats and the nets.

I stood in ankle deep snow surrounded by the amphitheater designed to perform Shakespeare’s stories. I thought about those stories, surprised to be drawn to them, disappointed that I wouldn’t be seeing a performance.

More stories waited at the entrance of the library. My favorite titles, cement books supporting a bench. Miss Rumphius and Charlotte’s Web, both waiting to be added to my day’s collection.

Stories ran wild in the library. History wrapped around me. I was struck by the convergence of old stories and new, fireplaces and chandeliers alongside laptops and flash drives.

We walked the streets, collecting stories of churches renovated to apartments and the best coffee house and second best coffee house, all the way to the bakery-that-can’t-be missed, Fresh.

In a book store we picked up a story of the best place to eat for local fare, and continued driving north along Coastal Route 1, arriving too early for dinner, so we explored more.

I didn’t know it would lead to my favorite story of the day. A story of chair makers, collected while walking through their shop, smelling the wood dust, and then through the showrooms. They shared their stories of furniture making, prototypes, homes, and food.

I collected stories from home too. Texts and photos and I love you, Mom all reminded me that while I’m collecting stories here, my story is still growing there too.

I am a story collector. These stories hug me and help me to be a better story-sharer myself.


It makes the world better. It makes me better.

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  1. Your making me think. I love hearing stories, but do I take notice to them happening around me? The stories you collected are wonderful and I now want to go story collecting! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Oh, I'm so jealous! I lived in Camden for two summers during college. I haven't been back in years and I miss it so much. Someday this summer I may just get in the car and drive to Maine!

  3. What an inspiring day! All the collected stories are beautiful in their own way and I really enjoyed you tying this post all up in the fact that your own story continues to grow itself. Lovely.

  4. I imagined you walking along and adding stories into a bag as you went throughout your day. It sounds like you had some great experiences to add to your bag today. Enjoy!

  5. Story collector. Ahh. I love this idea. I see it as a worn basket filled with yarns of all different types just waiting to be woven together into something wonderful. Your acknowledgement that even though you're not at home, your story is growing there too…is a beautiful idea. Enjoy the sea :).

  6. I always love your posts on the power of story, Ruth, and this is no exception! What an amazing day you had! I like how you went back to home and realized that your story is still growing there… neat!

  7. Wonderful day of collecting! New experiences, stories and observations. The only thing lacking was observations of bearded and gaunt-looking. : )

  8. This is an inspiring reminder of all the wondrous things that are occurring all around us- all the time. 🙂 I love the line in the library, “I was struck by the convergence of old stories and new, fireplaces and chandeliers alongside laptops and flash drives.” I was right there with you. I wrote about our “stories,” today but in the context of a tribute to an author I admire. Your words are a really poetic reminder of all the cool, beautiful stories waiting to be told. Thank you!! love it.

  9. So many stories streaming through your head. So much to think about, reflect on, and finally write about. Where will your dreams take you?

  10. In New Mexico I was introduced to Pueblo and Navajo pottery pieces called story holders. Your post reminded me of this pottery. One who holds the stories of others. Actually, this is a nice symbol for you as the host and holder of SOL stories this month. Thank you for hosting this wonderful event. You are a story collector on many levels.