Unexpected Surprises on a Patio Kitchen


I thought I was going to be writing about something else today, but something magical has occurred on the patio and I want to share it with you. Admittedly, two weeks into our six-week patio kitchen adventure, there are moments that feel inconvenient, but I am surprised to say (at least at this moment) that most of the time we feel like we’re on vacation. We linger over candlelit dinners at the long table. Early in the morning, we watch bees visit the kumquat tree to collect pollen from its blooms. Hummingbirds zip past on their way to the fountain in the front yard. Mourning doves coo on the telephone wire. Milo, the next door neighbor’s cat, is perched on the wall. In an earlier post, I posted this picture of our outdoor cooking and clean-up area.

outdoor kitchen

A few days ago, I received a wonderful missive from Andy, who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. What prompted me to send this today was reading your latest post on Two in the Middle and seeing in the picture of your outdoor kitchen the wall decoration/sculpture of birds on a wire – how amazing!

Ansels Adams Manzanar

A few weeks ago, I came across an Ansel Adams photograph on the internet. Adams called it “Birds on wire, evening, Manzanar Relocation Center.” You’ve probably seen it. At the time, I remembered you’d told me about Adams and his Manzanar Project in an e-mail. When I saw this picture, I was immediately struck with how much the birds and the wires looked like musical notes on a stave. I wonder if Adams had that in mind when composing the shot: there’s something about birds, birdsong, music that symbolise freedom whilst wire often symbolises captivity. It further reminded me of a Leonard Cohen song of the 1960s “Bird on the Wire,” a favourite of mine in my misspent youth. It’s funny how an apparently simple image can call up so much.

One day before Andy’s email landed in my InBox, Bill and I had discussed a fall trip to Manzanar. Then, a day after reading Andy’s message, our electrician was just about to leave when he turned to me and said, “That is a wonderful piece over the sink with the birds on the telephone wire.” I told him how we had placed it there to be our “window” over the sink. He continued to study it, and then he told me he had looked up some Leonard Cohen songs the night before. “It makes me think of his song ‘Bird on the Wire.'” It was my turn to look at him. “That’s what our friend from Glasgow wrote and told me yesterday.” And it turns out our electrician spent his childhood summers in Glasgow with his grandmother.

So now I stand at our kitchen sink and I see and hear all kinds of things! Ansel Adams’ photograph. Leonard Cohen’s song. And then I look over and see these miniature scenes Bill has placed on the ledge. They were “treats” that came with bottles of green tea we bought in Japan 13 years ago.

japanese scenes

plantsI look down and notice the “potted garden” Bill has placed under the kitchen sink. One of the plants is from a birthday bouquet his mother sent to me 14 years ago. She died 12 years ago, but whenever I see one of her plants (here it is the one with large leaves), I can hear her wonderful deep voice telling me that she is with us.



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