Tim Chitwood: Tree destroys Habitat birdhouse

May 5, 2014 

As a last-minute sculpture for this year's Habitat for Humanity birdhouse auction, my idea had great potential, I can say now that I don't have to finish it.

Topped with the frayed backing from an old rocking chair, my birdhouse would have looked like it had a thatched roof.

It would have sat perched in a dead piece of crepe myrtle painted to look like a small tree, so it looked like a miniature treehouse, with a little ladder hanging down from the hole.

I got the idea from the spring green on the oaks and thought maybe I could paint the crepe myrtle's trunk black and gray, and mottle the upper limbs in the neon green of early spring leaves.

I was making progress: I found a downed piece of crepe myrtle the birdhouse fit right into. I set the wood upright in the backyard, braced in the frame of an upturned wheelbarrow, stuck the birdhouse in and studied it, first trimming only twigs about to fall off.

I imagined when it was done, I might even pick fresh honeysuckle to wind through the limbs. That could give the piece a fragrance -- adding even more to the ambiance of the Habitat birdhouse auction "A Feathered Affair," 6-9 p.m. Thursday at the Joseph House Art Gallery, 828 Broadway.

But as poet Robert Burns once wrote, "The best-laid plans of mice and men gang up and destroy your dreams like you're nothing but a rat." Or something like that.

My birdhouse dream was not to be, for one windy weekend a pecan limb around 8 inches in diameter plunged 20 feet from the tree beside my sculpture. As if laser-sighted, it landed dead on target, splitting the crepe myrtle and hurling the birdhouse aside.

Also it broke the backyard fence and destroyed the wheelbarrow, but this is not about collateral damage. This is about hope, and carrying on, like I am now.

As I viewed the damage, I knew I would not have a

birdhouse to give to Habitat this year. But I would have a pretty good excuse not to have one. So that was a load off my mind.

Besides, Habitat has birdhouses way better than what I could do. It has houses from real artists like Butch Anthony and Geri Davis. Images are posted on the "Feathered Affair" Facebook page.

All the money goes to Habitat's construction fund, where it pays for a lot of basic supplies like nails, shingles, Sheetrock and Hardie Plank siding.

Last year the auction made $5,000, which may not sound like much compared to big formal fundraising events, but it buys a lot of nails.

So if you've got $10 to spare on an evening out, get an advance ticket to the birdhouse affair. Or pay $15 at the door.

You can get tickets from Laura Ann Mann at lauraann@cahfh.com or 706-653-6003. Refreshments will be served.

You don't have to buy a birdhouse, but you could.

I would, but I fear it would be crushed.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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