Thursday, January 7, 2016

Memory Board: Thursday's Reflection

Ready to dismantle this year's memory board
My upstairs sanctuary, the garret, desperately needs cleaning, top to bottom, shelf to shelf, each drawer and surface. Taking Anne Lamott's advice about how to approach a major writing project,  "bird by bird," I start with my memory bulletin board at the top of the stairs.

When our daughter Kate was in high school she always had a large bulletin board in her bedroom, and over the course of the year it became covered, layer over layer, with photographs, ticket stubs, campaign buttons, birthday cards, dried corsages, programs from concerts and plays. A record of her year. At the start of a new year she cleared the bulletin board and filled a box with all the items. A treasure chest of that year. As the year progressed, I loved seeing the empty board fill with the bits and pieces of her life. 

The last few years I have had a memory board, too. It is a convenient place to keep favorite birthday, anniversary, and Mother's Day cards ("Thank you for not selling me to the gypsies," from Kate.). I don't keep ticket stubs, but there is a program from Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle, the middle school play in which granddaughter Maren had the starring role. On the bottom layer is a sign Maren and Peter hung on the door to a narrow storage closet in the garret when we first moved into this house: "The Clubhouse, Kids Only (unless told other wise)." Neither of them have used the closet for a hiding or quiet reading space in quite some time, but until now I have not had the heart to remove the sign. 

Of course, there are favorite pictures, some received in Christmas cards last year and others of our kids from years gone by that somehow resurfaced. I love the photo of our niece Alli on her graduation from Loyola University, and I smile every time I glimpse a thank you note from Peter saying he "cuddles with the wolf every day." Then there are miscellaneous cards from places we've visited like the Thomas Edison home in Ft Myers, Florida, or a gallery of Jim Brandenburg nature photography in Ely, MN. 

A cacophony of colors and images. And memories. 

I removed each piece, clearing the space for 2016. Using a sheet of lavender scented shelf paper, I created a pleasing background for this year's first image, a print of a painting by Gustave Courbet called The Trellis. Earlier this week I enjoyed an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts celebrating the art and influence of Delacroix. This painting with its rich and deep depiction of a young woman arranging flowers was one of my favorites. 
A collage from an earlier year

But now what do I do with all the pieces I have removed from the memory board? Sad to say, some are tossed. Some, however, are added to the messy photo boxes hidden in cupboards for some day organizing. But some will become a collage in a large sketchbook. 

I enjoy this process, for it is a mix of reflection and creativity, a way to savor and not simply store, and doing this moves me further into 2016 and a cleaner, more orderly garret. Bird by bird. 

An Invitation
What have you done to cross the bridge from 2015 to 2016? What memories from 2015 will you bring with you? I would love to know. 


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