Months to fly by on birdhouse calendar
August 2, 2004
Alura Hart’s home has gone to the birds, and that’s OK.
The 53-year-old caterer and chef-turned-artist, known around town as the birdhouse woman, will take a $1,500 investment in the calendar to be sold at Tahoe Country in the Heavenly Village. Proceeds will fund an undetermined charity.
Before the enterprise concept, Hart built a neighborhood attraction along her fence at 849 Michael Drive in the Tahoe Island area. For six years, she’s collected, fixed up and added to detailed birdhouses of every type. As a former painting contractor, she swears by Bono 527 brand cement for repair jobs.
She buys birdhouses while friends supply her with some that usually wind up on display in her front yard. There’s a birdhouse that show the early days of civilization – with giraffes sticking out of Noah’s Ark. For contemporary living, there are bird houses with a train station, winery, saloon church, fire station and cabin with a “Gone Fishing” sign are also set up. A fishing lodge even comes with a tiny bag of ice on the porch for the fictitious cooler. A dog house as a bird house allows for a spot for Rover.
“They all have a story behind them. And everybody who comes by has the spirit of the child within them. I just love bringing this much joy to people,” she said.
Her first birdhouse has angel wings. Her favorite, a log cabin, provides nostalgia as a reminder of living with “Grandpa Brown” in the first four years of her life near Mount Rainier.
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Every spring in Tahoe, she’ll wait for the big thaw to dust off the display, repaint the houses and repair those that didn’t survive the winter. It takes about a month to get them up to par.
“Last winter we had 12 feet of snow right here,” she said, adding the fence broke. “I mean, look at this, what birdhouse has a pink roof like this.”
Santa’s Workshop is up for repair.
This year, she’s decided to put in benches facing her house so people can sit and take their time pondering the houses. Hart said she asked the city for permission.
For the winter, she plans to add holiday lights to add to the display.
New to the lineup is a lighthouse, complete with a small boat.
Neighbors and passersby flock to her home. Some have left her notes with offers to buy their favorite birdhouse.
“People come to my house and ask: ‘Will you sell me the birdhouse, the third from the right?'” she said. She guesses the ratio of passersby is 50/50 locals and visitors.
“I like the mailbox,” Hart’s friend, Libby Chakmakis, said. She brought over her daughter, Novel, to see the latest birdhouses.
Despite the name, birds shy away from the display.
“Birds will come up and check it out, but they won’t nest because they’re too close to the ground,” she said.
Only mountain chickadees seem to fit.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org