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Collectors and Their Topics

It was Friday morning and I was on my way home after playing a very minor role in the formation of the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I made my way to the passenger lounge at the airport, sat quietly for a few minutes and thought of how happy I was that this assignment was finished.

I checked my pocket calendar and was surprised that I had “penciled-in” Denver Postcard Show on Saturday, January 21, 2012. I really had no plan to attend, but so what else was there to do. I asked the counter-clerk if there was Air Canada service to Denver. There was and I change my destination.

The next morning, there I was, on a very cold Rocky Mountain Saturday sitting in a rented Ford waiting for the Denver Postcard Club’s annual show. It really was a cold day, but I had a pocket full of warm cash.

As is frequently the case, the stranger, be they gentleman or lady, standing next to you at a postcard show becomes your new, albeit for only a few minutes, best friend.  They will tell you things they wouldn’t tell anyone else they know.

I feel there are very few people who really care what others collect, but those who ask what you collect do so to prompt you into asking them the same question.  They then have the chance to explain to a perfect stranger what they search for and they glean a degree of elation in doing so.  Explaining their quest lends credence to their collecting as if they were doing the work of the Almighty.

About the end of the second hour, I walked to a dealer’s table and stood next to a lady in her fifties. I asked the dealer for my usual topics and sadly heard the dealer reply that he had none.

As if it were her cue my “new best friend” said, “You should try collecting collective nouns.”

Surely, you know there are many good reasons not to continue the tale of the ensuing conversation, but suffice it to say, I did ask her to show me some of the cards she had selected to buy and explain why.  I did this with more than great trepidation for I truthfully had never, ever, seen a dealer with a “collective nouns” category.

She started by asking, “Have you ever heard of a pride of lions or a gaggle of geese?”

I answered with a smile and she began showing me cards that pictured crows, owls, and giraffes. Then she regaled me with her passion for collective nouns. [Yes, she was an English teacher!] Holding up cards announcing that this is a Murder of Crows and a Parliament of Owls, and with almost unmeasured delight she handed me the third card and said, “This is a Journey of Giraffes.”

To tell the truth, I really enjoyed that conversation and she really made me think about how wonderful and specific our English language can be. I almost want to say, “It is sad that we don’t use it for all it is worth.”

Here Are Some Favorites

A clowder of cats
A dray of squirrels
A family of otters
A gang of elk
A pack of dogs
A pod of whales
A trip of goats

A cohort of zebras
A sounder of pigs
A field of horses
A herd of bison
A pack of wolves
A skulk of foxes
A troop of monkeys

A colony of rabbits
A fall of lambs
A flick of cow
A journey of giraffes
A pod of dolphins
A sloth of bears
An ambush of tigers

And, what do you think of . . . A fistful of Postcards?

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I am a language teacher and enjoyed this – grammar and postcards make the world go around!

Since I was an English major and I collect animal-related postcards, this article was right up my alley.


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