Inside the tumbler

Posted on September 22, 2011


Do you know about rock tumblers?  They’re drums that turn and turn, patiently polishing rocks in a slurry of water and grit.  Put in some Petoskey stones and the right combination of water and grit, start it running, and go about your business.  Eventually you open it up, rinse off the contents, and admire your polished stones.  There is, of course, a good deal more to it than that, which is why the infernal machines turn up at garage sales about as often as home treadmills, but that’s another post entirely.

It strikes me that something similar goes on in my mind.  I’m out and about finding unimaginable treasures, stowing them away in my pockets, dumping them into the metaphorical tumbler.  The tumbler turns, the treasures grind against each other, things . . . develop.  Sometimes shiny new ideas emerge.  There is, of course, a good deal more to it than that, and sometimes when I open it up, rinse it all off and examine it, I “look around and there is nothing everywhere.” 

That is a line from a song by Les Dalgleish, and it is just one of the things tumbling around in my mind this week, along with the fragrance of sweetgrass and the taste of maple syrup on frybread, the sound of steam engines and a storm on Lake Michigan, images of fat oil sticks and delicate strokes with pastels, the metronomic click of a Nikon, a place named Clover and a woman filled with deadly pearls.  Eventually I will tell you all about:

  • Visiting Greensky Hill with Judy Johnson
  • Listening to Patrick Harrison and Les Dalgleish at Sketch Live Music at Seed Studio
  • Reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

But not today.  It’s all still tumbling around.  Here is just a glimpse into the moving mulch pile—my beach glass collection standing in for all the rest.

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I’m not the only one around here who has a collection like that.  Take a look at Matt and Lisa Claflin’s Beach Glass puzzle.