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.