Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thoughts on Uncle Bob's Birdwatching Notes

So, I've been going through a box of books from my Great Uncle Bob's house. He died within the last few years and I've had the box in my garage for awhile now. Some of the books are really cool. There's a WWI first edition of TARZAN, for example. It has this fascinating note at the front about how the book was produced within the restrictions of paper rationing. But then there are a few little notebooks. The notebooks are full of little tiny table-like observations that took me forever to figure out WTH they were. For example, a list of numbers and dates follows the cryptic heading, "DEAD." They look like this: 4678A51, 2-3-55; 870C54, 2-20-55; 6681C52, 2-24-55, etc. There are about 25 entries like this per page.

After flipping through the book and seeing a few descriptions next to such numbers ("yedged wings," "Y tail," "2-tone tail," etc.), and knowing a little bit about my Uncle, I figured out (finally!) that these were birdwatching notes.

When I figured that out, I suddenly was at a loss about what to do with the notebooks. They probably have no intrinsic value. Not like the TARZAN books that are worth $300 a piece (Well, worth up to $300 according to some online site. The most anyone has offered me in real life--and I've been looking--is$30 for the set. But I digress.) And yet, composing these notebooks took *time.* Lots and lots and lots of time, judging by the notes that span on for day after day after day after day. These notebooks, in essence, represent Uncle's *life.* The actual way that he passed through the hours of the day. These notebooks represent the experience of his very mortality.

So what to do with them?

Uncle was a packrat. He had some 6000 square feet packed with storage alone. If we kept every single thing that he left, well, there literally wouldn't be any room left for us.

But I can't help but feel that these books have something to do with the meaning of life. The actual way that we pass the time day by day.

And I can't figure out . . . if the notes really are a symbol of his mortality, what should I do with them? They're birdwatching notes. Birdwatching notes.

I'm stumped.

9 comments:

Karie said...

Find someone who studies birds (there may be one or two at BYU...) and see if the notes have scientific value. If not, save one representative notebook and toss the rest.

This $0.02 provided by the Organizer/Declutterer.

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