It’s something that happens as the years fly by. Stuff accumulates. Mounds become piles and so many things that seemed important to keep aren’t.
And so each of us must face the inevitable. Stuff has to go.
Either do it yourself or your kids will have to do it eventually and that word is no guarantee that it will be a long time from now. Eventually has a way of sneaking up on you. That’s the way it is.
I’m working on it. After 35 years of travel to experience and report on fishing and hunting opportunities, I’ve accumulated thousands of 35mm slides. Also called transparencies, slides are a photographic format that allows one to project images on to a screen so that large groups can share the picture.
Slide shows lent themselves well to speaking engagements about adventures and to boring friends who were invited to dinner and forced to watch a slide show.
As I came to the shelf holding several stacks of slide trays, each holding dozens of slides, all in sequence from packing for the trip to repacking for home and tons of fish and game between, I came to realize that I hadn’t shown a slide in a couple decades. They had to go.
But before administering the death blow to thousands of 35mm memories, I had the good sense to project each tray, each depicting a trip or a theme. It took a few evenings, but it was fun in a way, a trip down memory lane.
The first tray led me around the Great Lakes — every one of them. It told the story of each fishery as I traveled and as the story unfolded, I watched a thinner and much younger me holding fish after fish, showing gear and lures, maps and sunsets.
Then, it was off to the clear water of Canada, the rugged and bear filled wilds of Alaska, the steep and snow-covered Bitterroots and the sprawling cypress swamps of Tennessee.
It was fascinating to see the sunsets, the lighthouses, the charter boats, the hunting blinds, and my own head covered in hair.
No doubt about it, it’s hard to let go of memories, especially when they are recorded on film, but it is time.
Earlier today I took a box full of slides to the camera shop and requested that they be transferred to a CD in a format that can be seen and edited on a computer. One gross of slides gleaned from thousands, that’s what is left.
From that painful reduction I’ll be able to make some prints and send a few via the Internet — with technical assistance from grandchildren.
I tried to keep a few pictures from each adventure hoping that someone, some time, will see them and appreciate them. More than that, I sincerely hope that future generations will be able to enjoy the natural world as I much have.
Now, however, I need to move to the next shelf, box, or closet. I’ve heard the rule that if you haven’t used it for two or three years you don’t need it. I don’t know who penned that rule but it’s a little extreme. I’ll stick the two or three decade rule for now.