One can only speculate on the underlying motivations of the bowerbird, but I am struck by the way in which humans acquire, organize and display objects in a remarkably similar fashion. Although we all intuitively interact with objects from the day we are born, a person’s first deliberate act of collecting might start with one object, one find, one opportunity or accident.
My earliest recollection of an experience like this was shortly after my family moved to Kingston, Ontario in the summer before my 5th birthday. My dad found a small toy ambulance in the garage and gave it to me. Play-worn and caked with dirt, wheels and hinges gritty with sand, it had seen better days.
It was not like my other toy cars, and it was not styled like the boxy cars of the 1970’s driving around on the street. It was instead dowdy and rounded. The cream coloured paint had a slightly dappled texture. The wheels were narrow and made of hard rubber, not plastic. The cast-in detail was very sharp. The bodywork was defined with fine raised lines, and you could even read the cast-in license plate number.
I did not play with it much, but I liked to look at it and think about where it had come from – and what it’s previous owner might have been like. Looking back, I would say that it was the first object that I collected. I still have it. You can see a photo of it here.
What was the first object you owned that struck you as special in some way, and why?