Chris’s barking got my attention. I was almost snoozing in my chair Monday afternoon. It was October 2, 2017, about three in the afternoon. No one can sneak up on Chris. He announces everyone and everything. On the other hand, Bernie remains mute.
Usually, the delivery person rings the bell, but except for Chris’s strident barking, the house remained silent.
I was too comfortable to bother going to the door. I told Chris to be quiet and tried to lapse back into my semi-consciousness stream. I was successful because it was more than two hours before I opened the front door.
Two large boxes were stacked against the front porch railing.
My custom Bird Garglers™ had arrived.
I am not a birder. I couldn’t recognize a pelican from a parrot. I don’t know why I became interested in collecting unique birdhouses.
In any event, my tiny garden has six birdhouses surrounding it. No birds have ever visited. The birdhouses remain badly weathered decorations.
Each birdhouse has a personal history. A symbol of my life. The schoolhouse.
The travel trailers. Even the small vivid yellow and blue birdhouse stuck high on a pole.
All are severely weathered and probably should be thrown away. The harsh Arizona sun wrapped the wood and faded their eye-popping brilliant colors.
I decided to decorate the sheltered area of my home. If I was going to have some birdhouses, I had to protect them from the sun. The carport and covered front porch would work.
Finished with personal memories, I searched for unique birdhouses. Thus far, I’ve collected a dozen. One day, browsing for something different in a birdhouse I spotted Garglers™.
Garglers™ is a combination of colonial American earthenware birdhouses called “bird bottles” or “bird jars” and medieval gargoyles. Bird Garglers™ is the hybrid creation of ceramic artist Douglas Fey.
Each Gargler™ is individually handmade. No two are the same. They are durable and can be left outdoors throughout the year.
Of course, I had to have Doug create a Bernie and Chris Gargler™.
Gargoyles are hideous looking creatures. Jeff Wells wrote an interesting article about them.
“They conjure images of hideous, brooding creatures perched high above the cities and villages of the world. The most terrifying ones look as though they might break from their stone moorings and take flight.”
However, these creatures are full of surprises. In the 13th century when they first appeared all over Europe they served a practical purpose as decorative water spouts. They preserved stone walls by diverting the flow of rainwater outward from rooftops.
Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images
Here’s how gargoyles came to be… according to Jeff Wells.
“The name comes from a dragon-slaying legend. The word gargoyle derives from the French gargouille, meaning “throat.” This would appear to take its inspiration from the statues’ water-siphoning gullets, but in fact, the name comes from the French legend of “La Gargouille,” a fearsome dragon that terrorized the inhabitants of the town of Rouen.
For centuries, according to the story, the dragon swallowed up ships and flooded the town, until around 600 BCE, when a priest named Romanus came along and agreed to vanquish the beast in exchange for the townspeople’s conversion to Christianity. Romanus tamed the dragon by making the sign of the cross, then led it into town where it was burned at the stake.
The creature’s head, however, wouldn’t burn, so the townspeople cut it off and affixed it to their church. The gargouille’s head became a ward against evil and a warning to other dragons.”
Those early church leaders were practical.
Jeff explains, “Because most Medieval Europeans were illiterate, the clergy needed visual representations of the horrors of hell to drive people to the sanctuary of the church. Placing gargoyles on the building’s exterior reinforced the idea that evil dwelt outside the church, while salvation dwelt within.”
Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images
A good idea deserves to be imitated.
“They also brought pagans to church. Churches would also model gargoyles after the creatures worshipped by pagan tribes, thinking this would make their houses of worship appear more welcoming to them.”
This tradition reaches back several millennia.
“The ancient Egyptians had a thing for lions, as did the Romans and the Greeks. The oldest gargoyle-like creation is a 13,000-year-old stone crocodile discovered in Turkey.”
(Notre Dame’s Gargoyle)
Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images)
“The world’s most famous gargoyles, and the ones that most influenced the popular wings-and-horns image of the creatures, are found on Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. Although the cathedral was constructed in the 13th century, the gargoyles were part of an extensive restoration project in the mid-1800s. Conceived by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and sculptor Victor Pyanet, the gargoyles have little in common with Medieval gargoyles, scholars contend, and were intended to represent the time period rather than recreate it.”
Did you know some gargoyles were fashioned after the artists who created them as well as church elders?
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
“Cologne Cathedral in Germany features a gargoyle fashioned after the church’s longest-serving council member, while at the Cathedrale Saint-Jean in Lyon, France you can see a gargoyle modeled after the building’s renovation construction manager, Ahmed Benzizine.”
Time marches on.
The gargoyle began to be replaced with pop-culture icons. Did you know there’s a Darth Vader Gargoyle in Washington D.C.?
Here are photos of Bernie and Chris that Doug created. I added the birds because these are actual birdhouses.
My fertile mind leads me down interesting paths.