An extraordinary locally handcrafted gift

Jen Couperus hand-carved ornaments

Possibly the most amazing Christmas gift ever: hand-carved (by our friend Jen Couperus) birds for our Christmas tree: from bottom left, a nuthatch, a blue jay, a chickadee and a cardinal. And another nuthatch!

You know, there are things that happen sometimes here in Queensborough that just make me think: this is the best place I ever could be. Such a thing happened last evening.

Raymond and I were sitting at the dining-room table, sweating it out writing way-overdue Christmas cards, when a knock came at the front door. (Kind of a welcome relief from Christmas-card-writing, truth be told.) I jumped up and ran to see who it was, and was delighted to see our friends and neighbours Jen and Ed. Who came in for a pleasant pre-Christmas visit, but who also – and this is why I’m writing this post – gave us an amazing Christmas gift. And here is what it was.

Oh, but first let me remind you of two things: one, that both Jen and Ed are amazing wood-carvers, as I wrote about here; and two, that living in quiet little Queensborough has awakened in both Raymond and me quite an interest in the beautiful birds that we have started to watch and study as they flit about the Manse. (I’ve written about those birds many times, but notably here and here and here and here and here.)

Okay, so perhaps you can guess where this is going: Jen and Ed’s gift to us, which was absolutely extravagant (though they explained it away as thanks to us for looking after their cats while they were on a cross-country cycling trip this past spring and summer) was: five beautiful, delicate, extraordinarily detailed, hand-carved, hand-painted birds. The same kinds of birds we see and admire around the Manse: blue jays, cardinals, chickadees and nuthatches. Christmas-tree ornaments, with threads for hanging them attached!

Blue jay on the tree

Jen’s blue jay in flight – on our Christmas tree!

The detail of the carving and the painting on these tiny birds is amazing, and I can only imagine how many hours went into their construction. Raymond and I can proudly tell a story about every single ornament on our Christmas tree (because they all come from a certain time and place, as I wrote about here), but I know that from now on we will always be proudest of the blue jay and cardinal and chickadee and nuthatches. Because they are beautiful, of course. But mostly because they were made by our friend Jen, of Queensborough.

Raymond and I are the luckiest people, with the best neighbours and friends, in the world.

2 thoughts on “An extraordinary locally handcrafted gift

  1. Simply beautiful. Queensborough is truly an amazingly kept secret. I envy your tree Katherine. Speaking of birds I lay quietly in the early morning hours and just before dawn I hear our Cardinal friends. They sing off in the distance and are very careful how close they will come to the feeders. But once they do you have a friend for life. To attract cardinals they like open flat feeders. I feed all my birds black oil sunflower seeds. I have our picnic table pushed up to our window and feed the big birds that way. And you will see the Blue Jays, Gross Beaks and the Cardinals come. Among the small birds. I like to ram a corn cob in the hole of my table and watch the Blue Jay ram on it while standing high on the cob. My kitty enjoys the entertainment too. So hats of to Ed and Jen. Beautiful, beautiful work.

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