JoEllen Collins—a longtime resident of the Wood River Valley—is a teacher, writer, fabric artist, choir member and unabashedly proud grandma known as “Bibi Jo.”

Most people who downsize their living places know the angst accompanying the disposal of once-treasured things, like old cards and photos, ancient wedding presents, and personal treasures like, in my case, former student compositions and my own academic records. I also delayed deciding what to do with my vast number of photos, often duplicates (I am the family historian), and my gorgeous collection of vivid batiks ad brilliantly patterned fabrics which I so enjoyed using during the years I created hand-woven appliqued recreations of places and people I knew and often loved. I did find someone who welcomed these richly hewed silks and other woven pieces. I am no longer able to sew by hand.
However, the toughest disposal process came with my wall of books. As I have been told, people are listening to or reading online, many classics and bestsellers, and certainly as a society we are reading less. Even local libraries may be overstocked with secondhand book donations. I offered several people a chance to come into my home and pick out whatever was still on the shelves. Some did, after I had winnowed out the most precious tomes I would miss.
Many of the books I kept were poetry collections and personal favorites of fiction and nonfiction, which I sometimes need to access. I still would rather see words on a sheet of paper, so I can scribble notes and praises in the margins, and I am tiring of opening my laptop every time I need to reference a favored passage or thought accessible with a simple turn of pages.
Now I have assembled my transported library in odd places in my studio apartment. Some rest under a large harvest table which also supports others on its wide top surface. I enjoy seeing them and often recalling the pleasure I had from these books, clearly visible from my couch or bed. They remind me of the loves and friends and stimulating ideas I have been blessed to encounter in my decades of life. This is a comfort I am happy to have carried with me., especially from the time as a teenager when I saw, on a high shelf of my mother’s closet, hidden editions of books considered “controversial,” like Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I always knew Mother had guts! Nowadays, many schools have even banned To Kill A Mockingbird: why, I’ll never comprehend. I suppose she would have saved a dog-eared copy for me if that had been the case then.
Just yesterday, as I saw dozens of bright yellow daffodils gracing a gentle slope outside my patio, I smiled at the simple joy of being in a warmer climate, gazing at these bright, hopeful blooms mid-February, another case for accepting the changes I have made. But the final pleasure was pulling out one of my anthologies of British poetry and savoring Wordsworth’s paeon to nature, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” Like Wordsworth’s, “my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”