A Gathering of Birds

And, by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds' eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little pink sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.

--From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

When I was three my uncle's job required him & his family to move to Japan for several years. While they were living there they sent me lovely gifts... a pretty doll, a little-girl sized kimono and a book of translated poetry for children. I loved the kimono and the doll but it was the book of poetry which captured my imagination. The book (The Prancing Pony) is illustrated with pictures composed of paper collage. It contains poems about children, rabbits, cats, dogs & little brown bats... But the poems & pictures I always liked best were the ones about birds.

In the years which followed, I collected travel mementos and many of them, too, seemed to take the shape of birds. In the photo above you can see humble sparrows on the fabric of a kimono I bought at an antique flea-market in Kyoto, Japan...

And these candle holders, treasured for many years, came home with me from a trip to Mexico with my parents and brother...

My husband and I found this pair of birds in a tiny antique store on a side street in San Francisco. At the time, my Mr. Bloom & I were engaged to be married and on a search for something unusual to top our wedding cake. When we described what we were looking for, the shop owner opened a cabinet and from its depths, extracted these doves. They were made by the Hawaiian artist Dorothy Okumoto...

For our honeymoon we went to Italy. In Orvieto we wandered into a little shop where the only thing the shop keeper made and sold were wooden mobiles. Looking ahead into our lives with hopes for children, we chose this mobile. It has three figures: the sun, the moon with a smiling moon-baby...

And, of course, a bird!

Why birds? Traditionally, birds are a symbol of the spirit or of freedom. In East Indian myth each bird represents a departed soul. The dove, in many traditions, stands for peace, the nightingale for love & longing, the owl for wisdom and the crane for long life & immortality. Nesting birds and eggs represent spring, rebirth and potential for new growth & life.

Do you have a favorite bird or bird-story? Please come back on Sunday, May 1st, for more birds and an invitation for a new swap, "On the Wings of Spring..."

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
-- Chinese Proverb


  1. I've always had something for birds too. I collect them. And, so funny, we just read those exact words from Charlie and the Chocolate factory right before I read your post! Hmmmmm. We must communicate telepathically ...

  2. Just this year I've noticed that all I ever seem to choose are birds. The fabric of my bags, jewelry, paintings. It's getting to the point that people might start calling me the Bird Lady. But I don't mind. There is something magical about their freedom.

    Thanks for the good thoughts and good suggestions. I take time for Alyce all the time, but I do so in such a way that it sort of blends into the day. Maybe I could help to understand explicitly that I like to take extra special time just for her. Again, thanks so much.

  3. I have a thing for birds too. I always remember the scene from Mary Poppins with the "bird lady" saying "Feed the birds...tuppence I beg".
    I am looking forward to the 1st of May now!

  4. Danielle -- Yes, it's great leverage to say, "You and I are going to have some *special* time as soon as baby lies down for a nap... why don't you go pick out a special book or game so we can be ready." Great distraction and a way to avert a tantrum (when that tantrum is really about getting attention anyhow!) Of course, it's all easier said than done, isn't it... sigh...

  5. Oooh... Fiona, thanks for reminding me about the song "Feed the Birds." I may have to work that in to an upcoming post!


  6. ooh. i'm excited about the exchange! & have a thing for birds myself...but that wooden mobile--i LOVE it. it's magical. you may have inspired something.

  7. just lovely. such wonderful memories and mementos. i love *feed the birds*!!

  8. Looking forward to another swap! so many favourite birds, so many ideas :)

  9. Such beautiful treasures. I especially love your beautiful mobile and the story behind it. I love birds! Me and my son Michael like to watch them and learn about them. I love owls. Lately I seem to collect images of owls and make owls.

    I have a story about a crow though. My Dad used to rescue crows that he'd find in the woods And we had them for pets, I think we had 3 through the years, each named Jimmy, lol! They would always fly away about the 2nd or 3rd year we had them. My Dad would train them to come to him and he taught them to talk. They were fascinating and beautiful. They used to steal shiny things and stash them in secret hiding places. Very funny birds.

  10. I love your story about the crows... now I wish I had a crow named Jimmy... (and I, too, have started a small side-collection of owls!)

    Please come back on Sunday for yet MORE birds!!! (hooray!)

  11. I look forward to Sunday and more fine feathered friends!


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