Saturday, December 27, 2008

Musings from my drafting table

With all the snow that has fallen across the midwest, the birds have come a callin'. The pond offers open water, so throughout the day, they hunker down in the honeysuckle, waiting their turn for a drink. They fly down to the stones ringing the pond, drink, then hurry back to the safety of the hedge. A redbud offers a perch for those waiting to swoop in to snatch safflower seeds from the platform feeder. From early morning until late afternoon, the cardinals, juncos, and chickadees stay on task, staging a show of bravado and submission.

Audubon's Masterpieces-
150 prints from the Birds of America

John James Audubon, born in 1785 to a Creole woman and a French naval officer, followed his passionate love of birds and set out to capture the splendor of the birds of North America.

When we moved into our home on Friley Road, I frequented local garbage sales in search of old botanical prints to decorate the walls of our new dining room. It was in this search that I discovered the Audubon bird prints that graced The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company calendars given to loyal customers in the late 4o's and 50's. Over the years I had been collecting and repairing ornate, plaster of paris frames, so I married the prints with these frames, then lined the walls of my dining room with these beautiful old bird prints.

I remember the NPR news story that broke one afternoon reporting the siting of the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct. I had that Audubon print hanging on the wall. The Iowa state bird, the American goldfinch, also hangs there, along with the great blue heron, the warblers, the robins, and the towhees. A favorite bird in my garden is the catbird, with its soft mewing in the early evening. It, too, hangs in the dining room.

Daddy Redbirds, a name bestowed on the cardinals by my then 3-year-old son, are nervously flitting from hedge to pond, from redbud to feeder, then hedge to sandbox for grit. The snow-blanketed garden is dotted red with bright crimson puffs of feathers. What a beautiful show on this snowy December afternoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment