Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sentimental me

Early in life I started collecting things. It all began with postage stamps. Thinking back, I had no real philatelic passions, but the fact that there were so many to collect, such variety, some so exotic, some so rare, it somehow made it an exciting process. Collecting postage stamps, exciting ay? Hmmm...

Then I started hunting.

Wandering through some quite remote bushland I would come across weathered and rusted memories of people who came before me. And I collected them.

As I realised the value of being able to identify species by scat and spoor I looked very carefully for well-preserved specimens. I collected those too.

And as an amateur taxidermist, very often a non-trophy animal would have an unusual pelage or antler formation, so I would preserve these for their uniqueness. I got sentimental.

Then I took it further.

Recovered projectiles from successful hunts, even the spent brass cases that fired them, carefully marked and dated and filed.

At each new hunting destination I noted the distinct colour and texture of the rock and dirt under my boots, and very quickly a significant collection of dirt appeared in our lounge - in shiny, clear beer bottles, again carefully marked for reference.

I wore out a pair of hunting boots and found it hard to let go. The adventures we'd shared, the miles we'd travelled together. Dust, mud, flood, thorns, lush grass, rocky escarpments. I held onto them for a year before deciding I had to let them go when we moved, so I torched them in a raging campfire as it seemed like the right thing to do.

On our first safari I wore the same pair of heavy cotton shorts for 10 days. Those shorts shared the entire, eye-opening adventure with me, the realisation of a young hunter's dreams and the beginning of a significant chapter in my life. A decade on, I still have them, wrapped and folded, still unwashed; a little piece of history.

So you can only imagine how I felt last month when the lens popped out of my Ray-Bans. Earlier this year the rubber nose pads disintegrated, but I continued to wear them, uncomfortable as it was. But without a lens... I guess it's over.

How many amazing things have we seen together? Incredible places we've travelled - Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe. Safari adventures in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. We've hunted buffalo, elephant, pigs, bushbuck, fallow... and so many more...

The things I've seen through my ol' Ray-Bans over the past decade are too many to mention, too amazing to do them justice through writing, too large a part of my life. I feel torn... they're just a handful of mass produced metal and plastic components, and broken ones at that...

For now I'll leave them to gather dust on the hall table... a table made with timber from the shearing shed on my favourite rabbiting block, and tied with wire from a fence that came down where I hunt fallow.

I'm so sentimental. 

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