I don't collect many things these days. I have a collection of Harry Potter books that I suppose I'll never let go of, but I rarely add to it anymore. I collect old quilts...or rather, I rescue them when I can afford to. But mostly these days I collect sand and dirt.
I've done it since I was a child, although never in the organized way I do now. Then, it was often collected and kept in a dirty water bottle or whatever happened to be handy. Now I bring baggies on purpose so that I can bring it home, dry it out, and put it in pretty jars on my bookshelf. Each jar has a taped-on label, telling when and where it was collected. Each jar is a little memory unto itself.
Some of it is just beautiful--a tiny palm full of black sand from Hawaii, some pebbles from the shore of Lake Tahoe. Other bits are more sentimental--a vial of dirt from my dad's backyard, a piece of shell from our honeymoon, a sand dollar Sweet Husband found from our recent jog on the beach at Santa Cruz.
I could see myself decorating a whole room with it some day. A big wall of shelves with nothing but jars of earth.
What my children will do with it when I die, I have no clue. The Harry Potter books can be sold or donated. The quilts, used. Maybe they'll just have to bury me in all my little bits of earth?