One day in the fall, I was sitting on our deck, trusty pooch Toby beside me, and I happened to mention that it might be kind of nice to put up a bird feeder in the back so I could look up from my book and see all sorts of colorful avian life forms.
I’m pretty sure that Toby did not consider this to be an actionable comment, but some member of my family who must have been within earshot did.
It was Casey’s boyfriend Alex, though, who presented us, on Christmas morning, with a bird house.
Alex has been around us long enough now to have reached some level of assimilation, and knows that we do not do anything normally. So the birdhouse he gave us was not the standard house-shaped, hole-in-the-middle, perch-in-front model that you might find at the local hardware store.
Alex shopped at Etsy.
In case you’re so last century and have not heard of Etsy, I’ll allow the website to describe itself to you:
Our mission is to empower people to change the way the global economy works. We see a world in which very-very small businesses have much-much more sway in shaping the economy, local living economies are thriving everywhere, and people value authorship and provenance as much as price and convenience. We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun.
Now before you go blaming Etsy for anything that has happened to the global economy lately (and, perhaps, pelt its headquarters with handmade knitted sockballs), let me translate Etsy’s rather lofty statement of purpose and tell you that it’s essentially an online crafts fair where people who make things like Goliath Birdwing Butterfly earrings handmade by using colored pencils on shrink plastic (a real item), and A1- 213 Vaporizer Steampunk Tommy Ray-Gun Modified Nerf guns (another real item) can sell their creations to other, like-minded people instead of being marginalized at Phish concerts, comic conventions, middle school art classes and, in some cases, lunatic asylums.
There are, however, genuine artisans selling their wares on Etsy, and it was from one of these that Alex acquired a “Cubist Modern Bird Feeder.”
At first glance, this handmade birdy soup kitchen looks less like a feeder and more like a medieval torture device, or maybe a portable hand guillotine from France’s Golden Age. But it certainly goes with our modern decor sensibilities, and it is quite striking to look at.
Being made of welded steel, it also weighs about as much as a Thanksgiving turkey, and I was hesitant to hang it from any of our trees, which seem to shed their limbs without too much provocation. There was also the matter of being able to reach the thing without having to shlep our new super-duper Transformers style ladder out there every time some robin got hungry.
So I contacted the artist who had created the feeder and he agreed to rig up a matching pole and send it to me, all free of charge. This is the kind of personal service you tend not to get at Home Depot®.
The pole arrived, and I dug a hole, and I planted the feeder, and I filled it with seed, and I began watching it obsessively so as not to miss any colorful creatures who showed up for the free buffet. At the same time, though, I was thinking that they were more likely to just be scared off by the thing.
But the very next day, small black birds began flitting in and out of the feeder, happily pecking at the seeds, and then flying away without leaving a tip. Barbara called after them, “Go tell your friends…especially the pretty ones!”
Not that she’s prejudiced or anything.
See you soon.