The Art of Scavenging

robin nest

Nearly a full summer has gone by, and my creative outlet of choice has become fixing up my nest. I am not trying to resume “American-normal” summer activities as if they are my god-given right—look at where that’s gotten us. (Though I do yearn to walk along the surf’s edge of the Atlantic.) And I have dramatically dialed back my consumerism. (But I’ve been doing that for decades.)

Normally I brake for yard sales, free curbside trash/treasures, and dumpster-diving. I’ve never outgrown the thrill of the discovery, and many of my assemblages rely on lost trinkets found on the pavement.

I decided to visit my favorite haunt of the last nearly twenty years—The Bottle Shop, about 45 minutes up the Taconic Parkway. (I love that this exit with a junk shop is the entrance to tony Millbrook, captured by Rufus Wainwright.) I did have a mission: an outdoor table top had rotted away. The bottom is an old industrial base, and when functional I use for my occasional social-distanced gatherings. (I can fit four comfortably, seated along my brick pathway that makes a circle around a giant elderberry bush which hovers over a bird bath and my cat Rufus’ bones. Not named for Rufus Wainwright. Just a coincidence.)

As always, I do a sort of walking meditation, absorbing the history, the accumulation, the beauty of decay and juxtaposition that always rewards me. So join me on my walkabout. (Watch out for puddles!)

goonie mask

bottle shop backyard

backyard panorama

boards descending a yard


still life w: madonna porcelain

still life w:pearls

bottle shelves

After an hour of circling and poking, I noticed the perfect table top. Made of cement, with a little ding for accent, it now rests solidly in my yard. And who can resist a vintage bottle or two from The Bottle Shop? Certainly not me!

cement prize


Oh, and here’s Rufus (hugging Tizzy). Both sort of scavenged: Rufus was found in my Brooklyn basement pipes and Tizzy was under a car in Beacon. Both treasures!

Rufy & Tizzy

photos Sharon Watts