Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Idyll of the Nest

To continue talking about the visibility of birds’ nests in winter: the sight of some bird family’s cozy little habitation exposed on bare branches takes me back to my child self, because I used to view birds’ nests with so much awe and wonder, (and my children likewise showed a great deal of interest in nests). In “The Poetics of Space,” Gaston Bachelard describes “the na├»ve wonder we used to feel when we found a nest,” and associates the nest with archetypal images of the cozy hut, the happy household, and a secure refuge (despite the precarious condition of so many nests) where one can retreat to daydream. Bachelard’s writings are very much about how our material and elemental world associations shape our inner worlds of reverie and dreaming.

In a childhood dream which stuck with me for many years, I was snuggling in a giant rooftop nest with a bunch of sisters, (though I have no biological sisters). I periodically reflect on this idyll of sisterhood, but long wondered where the image came from, until a few years ago I realized it corresponds to a scene from the “Wizard of Oz” movie, (briefly shown in the scenes of Munchkin Land), where a clutch of little bird girls in a big nest are waking and stretching.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I have been away from this blog due to end-of-semester and holiday busy-ness, plus icy walkways make it difficult to get out and around to make my walking observations. However, I shall resume by writing about some things we can see while walking (or driving) in winter.

One of the interesting things about living in the country is that once all the leaves have fallen, we become aware of neighborhood residents who are normally out of view, because their houses are set far back on deep wooded lots. Similarly, the bare trees reveal so many different birds’ nests. Often these nests are low and close to walkways I/you regularly use, without ever being aware that you are passing so close by a family of birds. When I walk around my 2-1/2 acres looking at the bird nests, I feel very privileged that so many birds also consider this little spot on Earth their home. It also seems that a tree is privileged to have a bird’s next in it. For example, I planted a fir which was at first shorter than the weeds, but is now getting taller, and for two consecutive years, robins have nested in it. It’s like somehow now that it has a nest in it, it has become a “real” tree, not just some kind of ornament.