At a rental cabin up north we noticed peculiar birds climbing down the trees – the nut hatch. That family like mine found rest and security in our woodland homes.
We had rented a hillside cabin for a week’s rest. It was a rambling house set into the hill. The owners appeared to be bird lovers as there were a number of feeders off of the deck, hanging among the trees. A variety of birds came and went, along with one very acrobatic squirrel. But the birds that caught our attention were small ones with pointed beaks. What was unique about them is that they were usually looking downward as they climbed in the trees. We learned that they are nut hatches, whose unusual view of the world arises from looking for food from the top down. They find what other birds do not see.
It seems as if the human family in our temporary home, perching on the hill, had much in common with the nut hatch family outside our window.
I have taken a piece of found wood from where I live near Nine Springs in Madison, because it had a large knot suitable for a nest. I gathered some dry grass nearby and constructed a nest from it. The nut hatches on the piece are stylized, but I am trying to capture their jaunty pose.
The challenge of this environmental art project is the finish of the piece. Wood is natural, but often wood carvers use paints and stains that are unnatural and even possibly toxic. So then I have used mineral oil to seal the pieces, natural stains where needed, and used hidden dowels and a milk based glue to attach the nut hatches to the piece. The challenge is also the charm of this kind of art; I expect that the piece will age somewhat quickly on location. Art again follows the course of nature and all things.
We find sanctuary together, not divided.