Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Nesting in an unlikely place July 13, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:19 PM
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The clothespins I use are weathered by years of exposure to the Minnesota elements. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

HANGING LAUNDRY OUTDOORS on the clothesline rates as an enjoyable activity for me, not a chore. Several times a week I unwind three lines, string them across the patio and clip laundry pulled from a clothes basket placed on the back steps. It’s pretty routine. I place heavier items in the full morning sun, sometimes shift clothing as the sun moves in the progression of the day.

A tabletop fountain on my patio features bird art. Birds sometimes drink water from the fountain. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo June 2022)

The rhythm of pulling, clipping, pulling, clipping, is calming, soothing. I notice the sky, the weather. Hear birds above the drone of traffic. Feel the sun on my face.

I hang my clothespin bag, open side in, to the side of the house. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo June 2022)

I feel, too, a connection to the past, to all those women who, without dryers, relied on the sun and the wind to dry their laundry. Women who were saving energy and money long before that became an environmental and financial concern.

I discovered a jumble of clothespins and twigs inside the clothespin bag. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo June 2022)

A few weeks back, my normal routine of pinning laundry onto the clotheslines proved anything but routine. When I reached into the faded dress-shaped clothespin bag crafted by my dad’s cousin Lindy, I felt something other than clothespins. I felt twigs. Lots and lots and lots of twigs.

I never leave the bag fully exposed when I’m not hanging laundry. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo June 2022)

I removed the bag, which I always hang with the opening placed inward against the side of the house, to investigate. I spilled the contents onto the back steps to reveal a pile of twigs, the makings of a bird’s nest. In less than two days, a bird had managed to somehow maneuver a stash of short sticks into the bag. How? I don’t know given the bag opened flat against the house. I do admire that bird’s determination and hard work.

I always keep the open side of the bag turned flush to the house, not exposed as shown here. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo June 2022)

But…I didn’t want a nest, broken eggs and baby birds among my clothespins. I felt some guilt in dismantling the under construction nest. Not enough, though, to cause me to refill the bag with clothespins and twigs and turn the bag to allow that bird easier access.

TELL ME: Would you have done the same as me, or allowed a bird to nest in a clothespin bag? No right or wrong answer here. Do you hang laundry outdoors?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Nesting in an unlikely place”

  1. We hang our laundry outside as we do not own a dryer. Wintertime or rainy days it goes on racks inside the house to dry.

    • Good for you! That’s my laundry drying scenario also. Drying rack inside the house when I can’t hang laundry out. I do have to use the dryer occasionally in the winter, though, and on rainy days (for sheets and towels).

  2. We were pruning the landscaping recently (full on power tools) and mister saw some dirt fly out of the shrubs. We later learned we probably cut into a nest the birds were building – luckily no eggs. We are usually careful since the snakes like to curl up in the those shrubs. I think this nest was tucked just right so we could not see it before pruning. We get the hornets and ground wasps hence doing a survey prior to pruning. Mama Mocking Jay built a new nest and she recently showed off her two babies to us. She is a fierce and feisty mama with her babies too – she will dive bomb ya – ha! We have a mama and papa Cardinal too. It is funny where they will try to build a nest at times – clothespin hamper and the bird is a genius in getting in there. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • Sounds like you have to check for lots of nests before doing yard work. I appreciate that you appreciate all the wildlife/insects/birds around you, although maybe not the hornets and ground wasps so much.

    • Yes, on the lookout, especially with almost 5000 sq ft to maintain. They all serve a purpose. We finally setup a fountain for the birds and bees to get some water too. We have limes coming in and will have bananas later on too (got 3 good size bunches last year). Everyone was stocked and then some with bananas – hehe 🙂

  3. beth Says:

    oh, I used to love hanging things on the line, the ritual feel and sound of it all, you’ve brought back with your words. I sold my house a few years ago and moved to a condo with small yard and garden, but I can certainly appreciate your post. I’d say that since you need to use the bag and supplies to do your work, there is nothing to feel guilty about. cute that they found that bag to nest.

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