When I pushed the ladder over the pile and leaned in to grab my turkey vest, two panels from a dog pen clamped down on my left hand and made me howl. I stepped backward onto a tailgating chair that lay where I’d tossed it after park and rec baseball was done two months ago. The chair rolled from under my foot and I fell into a heap of extension cords, narrowly missing a stack of Christmas decorations and bending my favorite fishing rod into a shape that resembled the number 3. Somewhere underneath was a case of clay pigeons, or so I judged by the muffled crunch my landing made. At least, I hope it was clay pigeons.
I was looking for my turkey hunting gear to pose in some photos I wanted to shoot, but finding anything out of season is always a chore. I’d not expected to need it before March. As it was, I felt I’d be lucky to find it by then.
Sorting through any pile of equipment is always a long-term process for me because, eventually, everything in it becomes a talisman for a memory. The rod my little boy used to catch his first fish stood in one of the boots my little girl wore on her first hunt. I tripped over both and knocked into a tooled leather shotgun case one of my Old Men carried as a boy.
The room, which I do occasionally put into order, is so full that the removal and return of any two items is enough to turn it upside down again. I guess it’s a physical twin of memory itself. I don’t worry about anything getting stolen from either because, even though some of the things cost a lot, they wouldn’t be worth much to anyone but their owner. Besides, the disorder alone should be enough to repel any thief. In both cases, when I set out in search of something, I can be confident it’s in there somewhere and, in the looking, many other forgotten things are found.
Neither system for memory storage is ideal, physical or otherwise, but then the items’ distribution ensures they all get touched from time to time, and I suppose that’s the reason we keep them after all.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.