Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birdhouse mania and memories



My Dad loved making birdhouses.

As soon as he’d arrive at the mountain cottage in Cashiers he’d head for his shop and start planning a new project.

He lovingly crafted homes for bluebirds and gave them to everyone in the family (and anyone else who’d take one.) Then he started worrying about the bats and their living conditions, which led to more sawdust flying in the workshop.

Once every bat in Jackson County had its own residence, I suggested we work on some fancier houses next time I visited. We made a couple that looked like country chapels, and one that had little gators glued all over it. I cherish the memories of those days together.

Sadly all of Dad’s houses are now gone. A curious squirrel destroyed the last one in 2010.

But a new birdhouse tradition is about to take flight.

The birdhouse is not a modern invention.

Historians tell us there is evidence of birdhouses in Turkey prior to the Ottoman period of the 1500’s.  The small structures were built to protect birds from rain, wind and harsh sun.

European clay birdhouses originated in Belgium and Holland during the 15th and 16th centuries. Unlike those created to give birds shelter, these houses were first used to trap chicks and eggs for food.

Native Americans crafted simple houses from birch bark that included a platform for feeding. When English and German settlers arrived on the east coast, the Indians shared their secrets for building sturdy houses to help birds breed and multiply.

Today many birch bark bird abodes are made the same way they were in the 18th century. But next to the rustic ones, you’ll also find birdhouses that look like 50’s trailers, Victorian castles and a See Rock City barn.

Only thing missing here is a tiny Sears and Roebuck catalog
Dad would’ve loved the privies. 

Since I plan to dedicate our new woodland path to him, it only seemed right I put up houses he would’ve admired.

He’d be pleased to know that the local flock can now set up mountain housekeeping in style.

And as he always said, “Every birdie’s welcome.”

6 comments:

The Redneck Rosarian said...

what an endearing legacy your dad left for u and the generations that follow. awesome post

Betty Earl said...

Lynn, this is one fabulous post! There are no memories as precious to a gardener as those incredibly loving experiences cultivated with a parent or grandparent in their garden.

Presskit said...

Love the post and it made me remember that I need a couple of new birdhouses myself as ours are becoming decrepit. Sure wish your dad was here to bang out one or two for me, but I'll settle for a trip to TJ Maxx.

Anonymous said...

Lynn---who knew birdhouses could be so totally captivating---but then everything you author has that quality. Your "old" English teacher and I look forward to more from you....Marty and Jack

Ann said...

What lovely memories and beautifully related, Lynn, as ever. Your Dad would be so touched by seeing that cute little bird box.

Betty Earl said...

Well said, Lynn! We've lived on our property for many years now; still, every spring there's something small, something new to discover. As in your post, I've discovered a gorgeous clump of violets -- white with a mauve patch -- that didn't exist in my garden last year. These tiny, delicate surprises are true blessings. Keep up your interesting posts.

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