There’s an old crooked birdhouse nailed to an old leaning clothesline post in the backyard of our old home. This sturdy dwelling is about twenty feet up (probably 30 feet in its heyday). Cosmetically, the birdhouse has seen better days. The colour of the wood belies its age. It was, after all, up the pole when we moved in 25 years ago, and it the house- remains the same although the tenants keep changing. Yes, it could probably use a bit of a touch up. The wood is a grim shade of sun-baked grey, but structurally this house seems to be as sound today as it was the day it was built and subsequently nailed to the post by person(s) unknown. It’s a single dwelling. I have no idea who the contractor was. There are no split levels from what I can determine. It’s a comforting structure which provides lodging and protection for birds and their newly hatched babies from the elements and predators. It’s not a birdhouse of cards. It’s not a birdhouse of straw. I am pretty sure that this house will be providing sanctuary long after I’m gone; a testament to the craftsmanship that went into its construction, and to the value of longevity. This is not a bird portable. It’s not temporary. This house is going nowhere unless the post does.
Although all of the tenants are of the avian sort, their stay in the house is typically transitory so we’re always greeting new neighbours. New residents. Inside the birdhouse itself, I can only partially see the constant renovations taking place from within. There is not a front door to speak of, and no screened windows – only a perfect circle cut through the facade. Through this hole I can see tiny heads, beaks, sticks and twigs. Birds are making their own homes inside the house. A house into a home.
I admire the person that built this modest house, and I admire the birds that keep making this house into a home. There’s something honourable in being able to create shelter. Not everyone can do it. I could not build a birdhouse that any self-respecting bird could reasonably call a home. My wife laments that she should have married a contractor instead of a writer. I can build things from words which would count for very little if our roof was leaking. I could write about the leaking roof and probably describe it in great detail and maybe win a Nobel Prize for Literary Gibberish but I would still be stuck with a leaky roof and an unhappy spouse.
Welder or Artist? Both
I recently commissioned a certified welder to build me a custom guitar rack for down in my bunker. After it is completed and installed, this chain rack will hold 15 electric guitars and a custom double neck. He is essentially a sculptor who works with metals and blow torches instead of clay and pottery wheels. Watching him work is hypnotic – as capable with acetylene as a painter is with acrylics. I may get him to make me a few metal birdhouses so I can get some type of avian subdivision going. My legacy will prove to be 100% for the birds.