Posts Tagged ‘home’

front door

The color green evokes a sense of peaceful growth.  Its use on or around a front door enhances a home’s ability to communicate a calming and soothing atmosphere. Although my front door is painted a very light greenish grey, it’s surrounded by much green foliage at this time of year.

Last week, while delivering a package, the postman commented that he would soon need a weed wacker to get through the doorway.  The vine leaves have grown very large and hang low by the front door.  In order to pass through the threshold you have to bow your head.

open door

Having to do this reminds me of a story I once heard  about an East Indian worker who had hung a curtain across the top of the doorway to his office.  It required that he bow down his head whenever he entered his work space.  The act of bowing was a reminder to him to be reverent in his approach to his daily tasks.  There’s certainly room for all of us to integrate more reverence into our lives, both at home and in the workplace.  We so often take for granted the sacredness of home and the work of our hands and minds.

mountain ash

Earlier this spring, I transplanted a mountain ash tree from the backyard to a spot just right of the front door.  This type of tree is very similar to Old World rowan trees which are customarily planted near front doors to ward off evil spirits.

Without words, nature can communicate warmth and welcome in many ways.  Mystery and the wonder of growth are inexorably woven into her message.

However much you knock at nature’s door, she will never answer you in comprehensible words.

~ Ivan Turgenev

For more information on mountain ash, see Rowan Trees.

For more information on vines, see Dragon Claws on Vines.

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It’s not uncommon to find birds’ nests in my yard.  A few years ago, I took an inventory and managed to count ten.  I’ve found them resting on branches, in tree cavities and on the ground.  Many last long after the nesting season is over, sometimes into the following year.  They are sturdy and surprisingly well hidden.  In order to take the above photo, I had to extend my arm above my head while reaching into a tree.

Different species of birds use a variety of techniques to build nests.  What is most interesting is how different couples work together to get the job done.  Here are some of the many ways that couples share the task.

  • Males and females work together equally, ie. woodpeckers.  (Thelma, would you hold this for me while I drill it?)
  • The female selects and completes one of several sample nests made by the male, ie.wrens (I’m not 100% sure George, but I think this one will look best after I spruce it up a little.  What do you think?).
  • The male gathers nest-building materials and brings them to the female who builds the nest, ie. mourning doves (Here’s another piece of thread, darling).
  • The female gathers the materials and builds the nest all by herself , ie. hummingbirds(Just get out of my way John.  Can’t you see I’m working here?  There’ll be time for that later).
  • Both gather the materials but only the female builds the nest, ie. American robins (Ok Roger, the twig I found should fit, if you get me a smaller one to place beneath it).
  • The female gathers the materials and brings them to the male who builds the nest (Nice lichens Dorothy.  Are there any more where those came from?)
  • The male gathers the materials and builds the nest all by himself, ie. some shrikes (You know what a perfectionist Mark is.  He likes to take his time and get everything just right).

Regardless of ‘how’ the task is completed, nests are built annually, providing a stable shelter for offspring during inclement weather and safety from predators.    Not all couples may share the task equally but all being results-oriented, they manage to get the job done on time and within budget.  If only human couples could work so well together!

The above techniques are from The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of American Birds.

See here for a classified list of nests that may still be on the market this season.

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mysideofmountain1I’ve wanted to live inside a tree ever since I saw My Side of the Mountain when I was a child.  In this film that’s based on the story by Jean Craighead George, a young boy hollows and burns out a big old tree in the mountain wilderness.   Not much square footage of course, but cozy.  The tree can be seen in the background of the movie poster at left.  Covered with fungi and in a sure state of decay, trees such as this (often called ‘snags’) are becoming more and more difficult to find.

The one shown below is located a couple minutes walk from my backyard.  I was surprised to come across it again a couple of weeks ago after not seeing it for many years.  I thought for sure the winds would have taken it down by now.  These days, it’s surrounded with so many fast-growing Balsam Firs that it’s only visible from one angle.  It’s riddled with more holes than ever and is much slimmer than it was when I first saw it almost two decades ago. 

Although it’s always appeared a bit too small for my dwelling purposes, I’m sure it’s been used by numerous wild animals and birds over the years and suited them just fine.  It probably provided them with lots of insects to eat too.  Imagine a home that doesn’t just provide shelter but built-in stores of food as well?  (I guess it would be the human equivalent of living above a convenience store).  Snags also provide look-out roosts for birds of prey while crevasses in their peeling bark offer comfortable nooks for bats, frogs and beetles.

Though it used to be common practice to remove snags and dead wood  from a forest floor, these trees are now valued so much for how they encourage bio-diversity in an environment, that some people are even creating artificial ones.   They limb, girdle, remove the crown and drill holes into trees that are deemed more useful dead than alive in an effort to provide a habitat for wildlife. 

The photo below is quite long and may require scrolling to view completely.  I was concerned that if I reduced it too much in size that some of the texture would be lost.  It certainly is beautiful.


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