Why We Collect: Stumpy-Armed Ringtails & Powerful Symbols

needle-felted raccoon by sendsunshine- click for more info

114 little eyes were staring me down.

Last month. My childhood bedroom. I had put upon myself the task of a master excavation of all the debris of growing up. A sorting out the empty nest.

Drawers, built-in bookshelves, hidden nooks. Long forgotten soccer trophies, a hand-written book my grandmother had given me when I was 14, photos photos photos, leagues of books, and hilarious old sweaters. Delving through trash and treasure. Sorting. Some precious keeps, and a lot to dump.

There was a skinny strip of paper in my closet, illustrated with jungle animals. I yanked it. My sister audibly gasped.

“That piece of paper has probably been there for 18 years. And you just ripped it. Gone!”

“Yeah, but I don’t need it anymore.”

I’m ruthless. I’m a thrower-outer, giver-awayer. I do keep some special things, but I’m highly selectively sentimental when it comes to objects.

But those 114 eyes.

There’s no way in hell you will ever part me from my collectible raccoons.

Do I sound like a total nut job?

Despite my penchant for scrapping pieces of the past, I love my raccoon collection. As a kid I grew up with a pet raccoon, and they were my favorite animal, and so the accumulation began. People gave me little raccoon trinkets for birthdays, and Santy almost always sneaked one in the stocking. Oh, here, I picked this up on a trip. I saw this, thought of you, and just had to get it, here you go.

Truthfully, I don’t remember where each little guy came from anymore. Some have been in my care since I was 7 years old. Many have suffered hardship and are missing an ear, a tip of the tail, and one poor woodland friend only has stumps for arms.

I don’t have them in my own home, but I do love seeing them at my parents’ house. They are…
safe
familiar
a reminder of my family
and growing up

10 points if you can spot the nod to the raccoon on my website.

See, they’re not just about my past. The raccoon is a powerful symbol for my present.

So I will keep collecting, keep surrounding myself with the image of the raccoon, each interpretation giving new insight into it’s psyche and meaning. The raccoon: It speaks to me. It anchors me to my past. It propels me forward. It comforts. It challenges.

So I’m wondering about you….

What do you collect? And why?

Let me know in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Why We Collect: Stumpy-Armed Ringtails & Powerful Symbols

  1. The racoon on the picture is SO cute!

    I collect purses and plushies (especially cats)! I started collecting plushies when I was a teenager and I never stopped!

  2. I remember reading that you had a pet raccoon on the snap shots page on your website. It was then I knew I had found a kindred soul.

    I lived part time with a family that had a pet raccoon as a kid. That home away from home was a safe haven and a treasured memory all these years later.

    As for collections, well I am a saver. I have many collections of things but my crows are the real keepers, my racoons. I only started collecting them as an adult. Don’t really have much from childhood except art work. I guess that is fitting :-)

  3. I love cats, frogs, rodents, herons etc. It is hard getting rid of childhood friends. They always keep secrets and look happy to see me! That is why, at 44 I still have my Kermit from 1979!

  4. 10 points: Oooooh — is it the mask the guy is wearing in your (beautiful, gorgeous, lovely) banner?

    The two things I collect most are shells and little fortunes from yogi tea. Shells because I like to have reminders of the beach close and those fortunes from the tea because little reminders from the universe make me smile.

  5. 5 years ago, on the road towards New Orleans, I decided I wanted a stuffed monkey to take around the Quarter and take pictures of. I found beads and signs with monkeys but no stuffed monkeys.

    My friends on the same trip but in a different car found my first George at a shop on the way home and brought him to me as “something I’d left in their car.”

    Originally it wasn’t supposed to be a collection or anything. Just a monkey. But the menagerie has grown by several Georges and monkey-related things. It’s even become the symbol for a new venture I’m kicking off this year and part of our house’s name.

    The bears of my past are collecting dust in the garage and soon will be shuffled off to the children’s wing of the local hospital–the monkeys have moved in!

  6. First off, my sister is the only person I have ever known who collected raccoons, so nice to see someone else does!

    I collected unicorns as a kid, then I tried to switch to Gargoyles but it didn’t take. Currently my biggest collection is cookbooks, generally ones no one else I know would ever even look at, like ‘The Viennese Pastry Book’.

    The cookbook collecting started before I went to culinary school and my mom and sister just send random cool ones when they find them.

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