glean 1. To go over a harvested field and gather by hand any usable parts of the crop that remain 2. To collect information in small amounts over a period of time
gleanings 1. Usable parts of a crop that are left behind in a harvested field and can be gathered in by hand 2. Objects or ideas that have been gathered or amassed over a period of time, especially when they form a collection or comprehensive whole
Ever throw out a tattered dress or shirt with the buttons still on? Or a pair of pants with a “perfectly good” zipper? (Brief audio flashback to my grandmother’s voice.)
Gleanings. There was a time, not so long ago in our history, when those buttons would have been cut off that dress or shirt and any fabric that could be restored to favor got salvaged into great grandma’s next quilt. And lets not forget the rest of the scraps that found favor as rags for household chores.
Leave it to an ephemera junkie to think about gleaning as she sorts through bags of 100 year old buttons and snaps and hooks and eyes oh my! on a Sunday afternoon.
Gleanings. Clipped off tattered clothing and passed from Ray’s grandmother’s hands to his mother’s to mine.
“What’s the difference between gleaning and hoarding?” I wonder out loud, as I separate buttons into glass jars.
“Purpose.” Responds my right-brained husband, as he prepares a gleaned canvas for his next painting.
Sigh of relief. Well, then that makes us gleaners.
Gleaners. Wait! There’s no such word in either of our dictionaries. Even endangered species get a mention in Webster’s.
Perhaps “gleaners” are part of an invisible culture – a secret, shameful culture spoken of in hushed tones – and gleaning an invisible tradition. I mean, where there is gleaning there is evidence of waste first – and needful purpose second. I remember hearing once that gleaning was outlawed. Was that somewhere in Europe? And, today, many farmers are no longer allowed to gather and save their seeds unless they wish to be sued. (Patents, you know. Kind of makes you want to hoard doesn’t it?)
Oh, and by the way, where gleaning is purpose-generated, hoarding is fear-generated. It is a fine line one crosses over between the two but that is for another post when I am wearing my professional clutter clearing helmet. Right now, I am wearing my artist’s beret.
Then there is gleaning as it relates to definition two and the gathering of information and ideas and beliefs and experience and wisdom …
As I look at this shot of Ray at the canvas, through his grandmother’s gleanings, I can’t help but think about how proud she would be of him and what he has gleaned from all of his life experience and how he forms that into a purposeful, “comprehensive whole.”
And I can’t help but wonder if she will forgive me my impracticality, as my purpose for these buttons is an artistic one. Providing closure of a re-fashioned kind. Artists make great gleaners, by the way. “They drag some of the strangest things home.” says she, in a hushed tone.
Pssst. Any gleaners out there with stories to share? This is the place where your talent and vision for utilizing the un-utilized will be applauded and appreciated!
If you liked this, then LIKE this and SHARE it!Pin It