Friday, December 7, 2007

Feathered Friends

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
--Rabindranath Tagore

****Warning, Jana. I've posted photos of my ornaments. If you want to be surprised, don't read this post.****

I am the youngest of four children and the only girl. When I was a little girl, and all the boys were at school, I remember sitting out in the backyard with my mother on the wooden patio furniture that my grandfather had built for us. I don't know exactly what it was that my mother did during that time, but we sat out in the backyard on the little patio behind the shop and both of us had a notebook. She might have been writing her weekly letters to her parents, brothers and sisters, but my
notebook had a list of birds that she had written for me. I would carefully make tally marks to record all the different birds that I saw each day. At certain times of the year, the Cedar Wax Wings would fill the privet tree next door and at other times there would be blue jays or mockingbirds. On rare occasions, I would see a red-headed woodpecker or perhaps a hummingbird.

As I think about it, it's no wonder that I love birds so much. My mother loved birds and both she and my dad encouraged us to explore all aspects of nature. Our family had a large, National Geographic bird identification
book that my brothers and I loved to pore over. In the back of the book was a set of recordings of various bird calls. We loved the clear plastic records and played them over and over again. We learned to recognize a wide variety of birds by both their appearance and their sounds.

One of our favorite past times during the winter months was to catch birds. Don't worry---we never hurt the birds or even kept them. I think that it was either Don or David (my oldest brothers) that came up with the idea of using our old metal birdcage, but we all willingly participated. After finding a spot on the ground near the house, they propped up one corner of the cage with a stick and placed a small pile of birdseed underneath. A small rope ran from the birdcage to their bedroom window, which we'd opened just a few inches. A record player was positioned near the window, in hopes that the recorded bird calls would draw a few curious, feathered friends. We would sit by that window hour upon hour, sometimes bundled in coats when the cold air from outside seeped indoors through the window. When birds came close, we all became very quiet and almost held our breath, afraid that the slightest noise would scare the little birds away. And every once in a while, an unsuspecting sparrow would hop under the bird cage and be caught ----just long enough for us to run outside, lift the cage to free the bird and rig the whole setup again.

I still love birds---any kind really. So, this year for the Holiday Ornament Swap I decided to craft a bird. I used red wool which I felted to make a Christmas cardinal and then embroided a face. I found the "curly" hangers at Wal-Mart (a great deal---30 for $2.49) and I made the little beaded connectors. As soon as my last piece of felt is dry, I can finish up the last 3 birds and get them packaged for the mail. I've included a few photos of the project.
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