"Il Suo Nido è Bello"
In February, the weather was cold
and there was little to do.
Fiorenza's father Giordano
set the village boys to building
model ships from slips of wood,
which they could sail in the summer;
and when they tired of that, he showed them
how to build birdhouses in various shapes
and sizes for the different kinds of birds.
Abelie chattered in excitement
over the birdhouses, producing
armfuls of sweet grasses and herbs
with which to line the bottoms
so the birds might make their nests.
In early March, the griffins returned,
soaring high and far in search
of places to nest. One pair
circled around the belltower
of Nocciolaia's church, and
the other returned to the dovecote
in Aunt Zola's apple barn, but
where last year's nestlings had gone,
Fiorenza had not the first idea.
She found out a week later,
when Giacinto came from Faggiola.
"I've heard that you have some experience
with griffins," he said to her.
"Oh yes, I know quite a bit about griffins now,"
Fiorenza replied with a nod. "The first year,
a mother griffin nested in the belltower,
but then some horrid boys shot her down.
Don Candido and I had to raise the grifflets
with a hand puppet, and I've no mind
to do that again! So now we feed them
scraps from the butcher and so forth.
We have two pair nesting here now."
"Well, we have another in Faggiola,"
said Giacinto, "and they are driving
our priest wild as he tries to keep them
from setting up house in his belltower."
"What has he got against griffins?"
Fiorenza said, frowning.
"Nothing!" Giacinto assured her.
"Don Joam just does not want them
in the belltower. So he sent me
here to ask you for another idea."
Fiorenza recalled her father's work
with the village children and the birdhouses.
"Perhaps a nest box would help," she said.
"A nest box?" Giacinto said. "It would have to be
the size of a wagon bed to hold griffins!"
"Never tell me that you do not know
how to get a wagon up on a roof,"
Fiorenza said with a smirk.
Giacinto tucked a lock of hair
behind his ear and said,
"I have never played that prank.
I have some cousins, though ..."
"Then by all means, let us prevail
upon your cousins, and put their mischief
to good use for once," said Fiorenza.
"Also I know some people here
whose help we could use."
First she spoke to her father,
and Giordano said, "You cannot
simply fling up a box and expect
the griffins to accept it," he said.
"You have got to know what
they want in a house, for that
is not the same to all birds."
"How do you know so much
about birds?" asked Giacinto.
"I thought you were a sailor."
"Sailors know birds," said Giordano.
"Their flight across the sky can tell us
many things about the weather and direction
and season, so we learn to pay them heed."
With that, he took himself and his measuring ribbon
up to the belltower, where the griffins were still
exploring and not yet nesting. When they hissed
and flapped their wings at him, Giordano said,
"Yes, yes, I know you like this place. I am
trying to find out why, so that your children
may have a nice home of their own!"
He came back down and announced
that he was off to do the same
with the dovecote in the apple barn.
Next Fiorenza went to Pasquale
and said, "Griffins will be nesting
in the village of Faggiola. We need
your help to build and move a box
for them to nest in, so that they
will not get into the belltower."
"I will help," Pasquale said quietly,
which was good, for he owed the griffins
a great debt after having gotten
the first one killed.
Abelie was eager to help as well.
Between her Bible, Don Candido,
the griffins, and the angels,
she managed to figure out
what to say in order to produce
the kind of nesting material
that the griffins might like.
Then Fiorenza, Giacinto,
Giordano, and Pasquale
traveled to Faggiola, where
Don Joam received them with relief.
There Giacinto enlisted the aid
of Silvano the woodcutter
and his son Nari.
They built a nesting platform
for the griffins, which wound up
looking less like a wagon bed
and more like a gazebo,
with a sturdy base surrounded
by a fence, open sides, and
a fine shingled roof to keep off
the cold spring rain.
Giacinto and Silvano assembled the base
and the roof, then Giacinto's cousins
and Pasquale helped them haul
the sections up onto the roof of
the priest's house beside the church,
where they fastened everything together.
Then Nari dumped in the bale of
nesting materials to line the bottom.
No sooner had they climbed down
than the griffins glided over
to investigate the new structure,
scratching about the soft pile of
grasses and herbs and willow twigs.
"They seem to like it," Giacinto said.
"A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello,"
Fiorenza replied with a smile.
To every bird, her own nest is beautiful.
* * *
A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello.
English translation: To every bird, his own nest is beautiful.
Idiomatic meaning: There's no place like home.
-- Italian Proverbs
Wooden ship models may be made from kits for from scratch. Some of them even float!
Nest boxes can attract birds to your garden. Raptors such as ospreys and great horned owls like to nest up high on platforms or cones. I have a fly-through birdfeeder similar to this, which often holds a mourning dove nest in summer, demonstrating that many platform nesters appreciate a roof. Now imagine this handsome little gazebo feeder, blown up to appropriate griffin size and attached to a roof.
Putting a wagon on a roof is an old prank that dates back as far as wagons have existed. Evidently Giacinto is not very fond of boyish pastimes.
Historic sailors watched birds for navigational clues.
A bell tower is a partially open structure atop a church that holds bells for summoning people to services.
A dovecote houses doves or pigeons, a popular food source in Italy. It may have nearly solid walls with small holes, or an open structure that's mostly roof and posts. Griffins prefer the latter type.
Birdhouses may also be woven from willow withes, like a basket, as shown in this video.