Aladdin had his magic carpet, I have my magic dust cloth and Swiffer. Well, my dust cloth isn’t truly magic, just a square cut from an old bedsheet, but when I do the dusting it can take me to places I’ve not been in a while.

We’re not exactly world travelers, but we’ve taken many a trip over the years within the United States and Canada. In any case, I am a collector of souveniers of the places we visit. There are the inevitable t-shirts and sweatshirts of course, and a few times when I was unprepared for weather a stocking cap or two, (Staten Island, New York and Juneau, Alaska come immediately to mind) but there are other items as well. And when I’m doing the household cleaning and tidying I get to visit those places once more while plying my dust cloth.

On the mantel of the living room fireplace is a clock made from a redwood burl, purchased when we visited the redwood forests of northern California. Nearby on the shelf that is part of the living room’s bow bay window is a sculpture “plate in a holder style” where within the circle is an image of an elk that sits on a holder that resembles wolf paws, all made from volcanic ash following the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s, purchased in the state of Washington. I collect thimbles as well as refrigerator magnets and have an abundance of both either purchased or gifted to me by our daughter when she’s visited some spot I have not. There’s Kentucky, Mackinac Island Michigan, Tennessee, and NYC to name a few (thimbles that is). Magnets from every state west of the Mississippi save New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, some doubles even! I also collect pitchers and bowls, large and small. Sitting on the bookshelf is a Wall Drug, a Mount Rushmore and a Yellowstone National Park – all from South Dakota – there’s a Mackinac Island one too and a Mackinac Island candle holder – guess I liked that place. Besides we visited there more than once. Yet my favorite is a lovely bone white pitcher and bowl covered over with little cupids and hearts, purchased at a roadside flea market in Ladysmith, Wisconsin! There is a hand-blown candle holder on my dresser made by artisans in Alaska, ditto a miniature totem pole on a basement book shelf, from NYC a figurine of King Kong atop the Empire State Building and a cup from Wahlburger’s on Coney Island filled with Atlantic Ocean seashells. Eclectic true, but it works for me.

So when I think about how COVID has kept us relatively close to home this past year. Year! Who’d a thought. I simply travel as I dust, in my mind’s eye at least. Each room in the house has some tidbit from another place and time for me to enjoy.

And then there are the photo albums!

A library patron from several years ago felt that one didn’t need photos if in ownership of a good memory. I disagree. One’s physical memory can fade. Photos can not only reinforce old memories, (usually good ones), but take us to another place and time just as my little souveniers do. Thus when I’m feeling a bit caged I can pull an album off the shelf in our basement family room and take myself off to Wyoming or Montana, Kentucky or Tennessee. Fishing in Alaska. Hunting right here in Wisconsin. See glimpses of folks long gone, or simply seeing the younger me again, carving pumpkins with my kids at Halloween or enjoying their smiles as they opened Christmas gifts. Travel without moving a muscle.

In truth, and with great thanks, COVID has not changed my life all that much. But a gal does need to get away once in awhile and I can do that. If I need to go even further afield there’s always a book somewhere close at hand, I’ve been to France a lot lately without ever leaving home. Now, where did I leave that oh so magical dust cloth?

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