Crating Hope

Spring hides asleep beneath the white.

Joy suppressed, will reignite.

Optimism will take flight

For now, we wait, and holding tight,

We hide beneath down through the night

My buried longing, a glowing ember

Flowers and songbirds I remember

Jennifer Currie

Last winter was mild and sweet, with plenty of sunshine.  Covid was a novelty, scary, odd, at times lonely but stimulating none the less.

 The spring came and went and none of us really thought we would see another winter of lockdowns and restrictions, yet here we are.  Then just as we saw a beacon of hope and glimmer of light, along comes a new foe – Putin , the animal.

His vicious attack on an innocent Ukraine, put the viral focus on a back burner, and added another soul crushing element to the 2022 winter, which seems to be going on as Canadian winters can be known to do, for too damn long.   It is desperately miserable at times to know how powerless we can be against this bully.  Donations are helpful, one hopes; we can plaster Facebook with flags, sunflowers, and heartwarming stories yet, it still seems so little, detached and futile.   

We need spring and we need it now !

During long winters, the Gatineau Valley Gardening (GVG) club hosts monthly meetings where members can exchange seeds, have speakers and see various slide shows of glorious flowers and shrubs to cheer them through the cold days while new life is buried under the snow.  

The end of February, it was my pleasure to offer a lecture on creating concrete garden planters. walkways, and birdbaths.

Concrete is easy to work with, fun for all ages. With experience you can play with texture, colour size and shape, and each piece is original. The birds flock to them, and it is delightful to see the first Robins bathing in your homemade birdbath! The birdbath making process is easy and the recipe is shared today, right here ! Perhaps you can create something of your own. The three odd hours from start to finish transports you into a peaceful imaginative state of mind, wherein you can think of nothing but the gorgeous piece you are creating.

What you need:

3 hours, beach sand, Portland cement, peat moss, and protective clothing as well as rubber gloves.

Preferably a workstation so you don’t have to stoop, but it is possible to make them on the ground.

DIY Birdbath step by step

You will be building the bath upside down from the inside out. 

Put a few shovelfuls of beach sand on your surface and fashion it into the shape you want (most are round).  Mound it up into a relative round birdbath shape and pat it down. Take your time, as this is the shape your birdbath will take.

Cover the mold with veiny leaves.   Bok choy, burdock, plume poppy, rhubarb, romaine lettuce, cabbage of all sorts, host leaves, fern, palms.

Mix up in a wheelbarrow one part Portland cement, one part sand, 1/3-part peat moss.  Add water until and mix well with your rubber gloves on until the mixture is thoroughly mixed and to the consistency of a loose raw burger mixture or a thick cottage cheese.  (Not too runny, but not dry).

Gals with smocks and rubber gloves. A workout !!

Make a hamburger patty and plop it on the middle top of your leafy design.  Continue adding patties all the way round in a circular fashion joining them up with one another until the entire mound of sand with leaves on top is covered with the cement mixture.  If you can ensure there are leaves that extend out the edge of the sand mold ; they can be folded over the sides of the birdbath in order to create a nice edging.  

Here is the hard part.  Wait two full weeks for it to cure – it is fine in sun or shade but should be protected from rain.

Then the reveal!!!!   flip the bird bath over, scoop out the sand and hose it down inside.  The leaves may rot out or be carefully pulled out to reveal the lovely veiny insides of the birdbath.  What joy it is to reveal the bath!!!  Some turn out so very well, and other are somewhat mutants, yet each one original.

Rocks or choral can be used in the center, or glass beads, scrabble letters, pennies, pinecones, shells or Grammy’s old pottery.  Natural is best, sometimes just the leaf is nice all on its own.  You can experiment with cement dyes in yellow, green or brick red.  It is possible to make several mini concrete pieces and embed them into a final piece.  The options are limited by your imagination, only.

If you like to play in the mud, it is a perfect summer’s afternoon. Craft some hope. If you build it, the birds will come.

Yours in muck,