Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mountain Nest in a Cat Tin

Years ago we lived by Mount Lassen in the Cascade Mountains near Lake McCumber and Lassen Volcanic National Park from 1999 to 2002. We lived at the end of the road and had only one neighbor down the street whom we hardly ever saw. Sometimes we still dream about living there again; some places are special that way. We lived at 4500 foot elevation and summer night time temperatures dropped into the 60s. We never needed any air conditioning; we just opened our windows at night and let the cool air in and closed them in the morning to keep the hot air out. One day at a thrift store I found a cat tin. At the time the cat on the tin reminded me of my cat Binky so I bought it. (On the lower right side bar there's a photo of Binky; if you click on his photo you can read a story about him being lost in the snow at that time; how I got him back; a real miracle if there ever was one).

Our little house in the mountains was surrounded by massive Ponderosa pine, incense cedar, and Douglas fir trees towering above our home. One day after some high winds I was walking in the back yard and found a beautiful nest had fallen from a tree. I was mesmerized at the intricacy of the bird's nest building ability and decided to keep the nest and brought it into the house. I thought to store the nest in the cat tin afraid my cats might wreck havoc on the nest.

The bird had used twigs, lichen, and moss and had woven them into a wonderfully soft nest. As I was looking at the nest again today I noticed there must be hundreds of pieces in this nest and not one is larger than an inch. I thought about how many trips the bird must have made to build this nest. How much energy it took to build one simple, yet not so simple nest.

The other day I was reading Charlene's blog, Clay and Persimmons, she was building bird's nests out of clay and I was reminded of my mountain nest stored in this cat tin. Years after living near Mount Lassen we lived in the Sierra Nevada foothills in central California. I bought some plastic bird's eggs and placed them in the nest and put the nest in a manzanita branch I had in a pot on our back porch. When we moved I gave the manzanita branch away but I put the mountain nest back in the cat tin where it's been ever since.

When I took the nest out of the tin today to photograph it, I noticed the nest still has a forest fragrance, a mixture of pine, cedar, and fir, of lichen and moss, and a wonderful mountain freshness. That fragrance brought a little tear to my eye this morning, sometimes I miss living in the mountains so much. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. This is a beautiful post, Linda. Just beautiful.

  2. What a wonderful memory and beautiful post!

  3. what a sweet post... that nest is precious.

  4. Beautiful memories and the little nest is lovely.


  5. those nest are built to last.
    we should take notice of that and build more things to last as long as the bird nest.

  6. Beautiful post. I love nests and have several I have saved from years ago, living in different places like you have. I also miss the mountains and living at higher elevations.

  7. I love the story about how you found Binky when he was lost. He's one lucky kitty! You make living in the mountains sound just wonderful.

  8. This is a beautiful story. It's important to think about all of the energy that goes into building something. I suppose we think about that a lot being people that build.

  9. Hi Teresa, thanks so much.

    Hi Turquoisemoon, thank you.

    Hi Michele, thanks.

    Hi Elna, thanks to you.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, yes how long does it take to make a bird's nest, it might not have lasted as long it I had left it on the ground but would have turned into soil or compost eventually I guess.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, ah yes especially in summer the cool mountain air has a draw.

    Hi Lori, thanks, I couldn't help but think of the birds flying back and forth day after day building a nest so intricately woven. I guess we do what we have to do just like the bird. Ha.

  10. Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, wasn't that amazing how I got him back, he is still alive, about twelve years old now.

  11. What a beautifully written post. I was just up in the Mt. Lassen region. It is an incredible area filled with wonder and awe. Thank you for the mention, I appreciate it and glad that my little fragile clay nests so connected you with such wonderful memories.

  12. Hi Charlene, thanks, there is a huge forest fire up there right now. I hope it all doesn't burn, it is so beautiful up there. I love the Sierra mountains.


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