December 3, 2008

Love-of-Nature Table Arrangement

When we moved into our home in Athens this past July, there was a small bird's nest perched atop one of the porch lights. Usually, I would leave a nest alone, but this one had been abandoned and I was concerned about the dry straw and pine needles over the warm, and somewhat outdated, porch light.

I took the nest gently down and put it in the garage, sure I would find a use for it somehow. Just looking at it--I admired the workmanship. How did the little bird get it so round? So perfectly cup shaped? How did it hold together through all sorts of weather? And, mind you, all made "with no hands." Only a beak.

As Thanksgiving approached, I wanted to make some sort of arrangement using pine cones gathered at Drummond Island last year, tiny pine cones from Ohio University's campus, buckeyes from our back yard, and the bird's nest. I gathered these items together and, wanting to "fancy them up" grabbed a can of gold spray paint.

—Also my respirator. It's the first time I've used aerosals in a while and didn't want to stir up asthma symptoms. So, I did the sensible thing. Used the inhaler and strapped on the respirator. Looking like a giant fly and avoiding the room where our parrot resides, I went out into the garage and sprayed the heck out of these beautiful, natural elements. Hmmmm....

—Then, I found an old wooden salad bowl that had seen better days. It was humiliated by Mark's more beautiful and sturdy wooden bowls--a whole array of them, to be honest--and had been hiding in the back of a cupboard pretty much since we'd joined households. I promised it a new level of respect, and grabbed it and my glue gun, as well as the painted pinecones, bird's nest, and buckeyes.

—I put MI-5 DVDs in the player, poured a glass of Coke and settled in for a nice relaxing afternoon. On the table in front of me were a bevy of industrious projects, including nine ATCs for the "Two-Sided Hanging Ornament" swap and six or seven, I can't remember, ATCs for the "Blue Christmas" swap.

I'd used the "squirt blue, silver, and turquoise paint onto a slick surface and let it dry" method for the Blue Christmas cards, and so there was wet paint drying on surfaces all around. Silver beads used in the ornament cards were rolling across the table, as well as leftover glitter, a half-empty bag of gingersnaps (yum!), several pairs of sissors that said "sewing only" but nobody listened, and my favorite pens (Micron .005).

—I squirted glue generously into the bottom of the wooden bowl and arranged the larger, longer pine cones around it, their bottoms toward the center and their tops toward the rim. Next, I put the bird's nest in the middle and put enough glue in there to hold it.

—Then I took the medium size pine cones (more roundy shaped and about 2.5 to 3 inches long) and glued those around the bird's nest. I filled in all empty spaces with the tiny pinecones.

—I also used some leaves and eucalyptus (also sprayed gold) to fill in spaces, as well as some cool feathers purchased at Jo Ann Fabrics and Crafts a long time ago and left over from another project.

Three perfect buckeyes were glued into the middle of the next. Something else was needed (isn't it always?) and so I glued three white plastic beads in there as well.

—The arrangement looked really nice on the cherry table next to our dining room table. I love it and will enjoy it for many years, and the old wooden bowl seems happy to have a new life. I don't know how the wild bird feels about it. Hopefully the two-acres of woods behind our house will provide a new place for her to nest in the spring.

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