Growing up, my older brother was always collecting something. He collected bottle caps (I can't remember why), coins, stamps, Star Wars action figures, and baseball cards (Topps, not Fleer). I'd listen to him rattle off what made one item more valuable than another, how they should be handled, just how many he needed before he had a complete set, and I wanted to have a collection too. I was fascinated by the planning: where to get the next one, how to organize the ones you have. And I loved the guidebooks full of arcane minutiae set in endless tables.
I love glass, so I started a collection of old bottles, the sort that can be found in the woods near deserted cellars. I picked them up at flea markets and tramping through the woods, but I never wanted to look in any of the guidebooks I brought home from the library. I liked the idea of all those facts and guidelines for collecting much more than the reality of studying them. So I stopped collecting anything that anyone else might find valuable. I had a collection of itty, bitty pencils (ones with working erasers were the top find), rocks that looked like animals (I still have my first, a hamster) and teardrop shaped glass sun catchers.
Today my urge to collect manifests itself in the pictures I take. There are certain images that I never tire of: weather vanes, hollows in trees, squirrels, animal tracks, shadows and most recently, mailboxes! This latest collection started when I took a wrong turn and ended up on a road with some of the brightest owner-decorated mailboxes I've ever seen. I say owner-decorated because there are all sorts of companies making unique mailboxes, but what caught my eye was the DIY nature of these mailboxes. Let me show you what I mean.
This tiger striped mailbox was the first one to catch my eye. You just don't expect to see something like this in Lincoln, a historic, rural, New England town.
Further down the road I spotted this cheetah mailbox. Could their owners be friends?
This Canadian goose mailbox is a bit more traditional. I liked how the goose on the front seems to be daring you to come any closer.
This one intrigues me. I'd love to talk to the artist. Both sides show fungi on a desolate landscape. It felt sci-fi inspired to me.
In addition to alien-world look of the painting, it has a lucky horseshoe underneath. I don't know if it's intened to bring luck in the form of good tidings, or if the homeowner was just trying to preserve the mailbox from the snow plows. All up and down the street I saw trees with gouges from plow blades, and mailboxes which had clearly been knocked down a time or two. This winter the snowbanks were so high that on some streets all you could see of the mailboxes was the tiny mailbox-door sized holes their owners had made.
All of those plow mishaps have lead to some creative solutions.
The base of this mailbox is surrounded by concrete blocks.
These brightly painted mailboxes have been secured to a stump in addition to having metal supports.
And my favorite plow-war veteran would have to be this one. The original support only goes so far as the first milkcrate at which point it ends in a splintery mess. So the mailbox is actually being supported by two milk crates attached to a dolly with a web of bungy cords. Now that's Yankee ingenuity (and thrift).
This old rusty ol' dinosaur has seen a crash or two. Wouldn't it be great if they actually painted it like a dinosaur? The door just needs a tongue and razor sharp teeth like a T-Rex. A couple cold reptilian eyes on the side and it would be perfect!
This fanciful, red fox out for a moonlit run is my absolute favorite. The simple lines and bright colors look like something out of a children's book. I look at it and imagine the rest of the fox's adventure, and then I start to imagine what sort of story I could paint on my own mailbox.
I think I'll collect some more mailboxes (for inspiration of course), before I take that leap.