Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Hair For The Birds And The Fairies

My life in appalachia - Hair For Birds and Fairies

She combed her hair a hundred strokes every night before going to bed. The brown reminded me of a river as it washed over her back and ended somewhere below her waist. Every once in a while she’d take the strands that were trapped in the bristles and set them free out behind the house.

She told me it was a secret thing to do but she knew I’d never tell. In whispers she shared the story of birds who thanked her every morning with song for the brown strands which now held their nests of twigs together; of the fairies who brightened the flower beds in return for their warm blankets woven with the gift of her hair.


Chitter took the photo above-she was trying so hard to capture the small flowers that she didn’t realize her hair had fallen into the photo too. When I saw the photo-the little story above popped into my mind.

I always heard you were supposed to brush your hair a hundred times a day, but never did. Maybe if I had mine wouldn’t be so fine and thin. The Deer Hunter says I should just be glad I still have hair.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    May 22, 2012 at 8:16 am

    What a cute story. Mom always wore her hair short, she said when it got too long, too much of it fell out.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    May 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    tipper i love this story.. filled with whimsy and smiles.. actually all your posts are that way.. but i have an affinity for fairies and birds and all of nature.. so its right up my alley..
    your words tend to move my heartstrings and i love it.. and feel that you are part of my family and i talk of you often.. so when your ears ring.. it could be me buzzin around.. lol in ladybug form.. or speaking of your stories and the lore you shaer with us all.
    thank you for sharing.. spring has sprung full force here in pa and the birds have a nest under my porch and i love hearing them chirping early in the am.
    have a wonderful week.. you have brightened the beginning of mine
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

    and Don….AAhhhaaa, I do believe you’ve got it!….I just couldn’t think of “Fire Pink”..:o(..LOL
    Don..I got this next one….
    Bill Monroe is considered to be the Father of his children!
    ];o)> …LOL

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    We’ve cut Tom’s hair outside a few times, and later we’ve found his hair in the nests of birds.
    What a sweet little story to share with children to teach them one little way to care for others.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    May 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    A beautiful story, Tipper. It is the kind of thing your gentle mind would conjure as you noticed the hair in the photo.
    I’ll have to remember to share hair in my brush with the many, many birds that live here.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Re: Uncle Al’s question about the red flower with slit ends – that sounds like Fire pink. It likes to grow on dry banks (as in next to a road which he mentions). Here’s a photo of one for comparison:

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Mighty late in the game, but Tipper can either you, Miz Chitter, or anyone else name the flower?
    Hint: what is Bill Monroe considered to be the father of?

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I think that much brushing just causes split ends! I used to have a Golden Retriever. Besides being the best dog that ever lived, he shed A LOT. I would gather the fur from the brush and save it in bags all winter. In the spring I would put handfuls of it in the bushes and soon see the golden tufts sticking out of the birds’ nests. I still miss that dog, and imagine the local birds do too!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    and Uncle Al….are you in Orange County…Could your red flower be
    “Indian Paintbrush”…common name, I have a hard time remembering scientific names..LOL
    Just guessing…but they like a field close to a wooded area, not too moist and not too dry..
    You know what…wouldn’t it be fun to post all the wildflowers and trees we see growing in and around our places…That might give an idea of their abundance or not….just pondering!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I always liked the way you and the
    girls do your hair. And the fairy
    tales of hair and resting places
    was cute.
    Last year when the corn silks got
    long and beautiful, I sent two of
    my youngest granddaughters some in
    a zip lock bag. Soon as they opened it the oldest one said,”
    Pawpaw this looks like Cinderella’s hair. Mommie told me
    that Cinderella lived out there
    in the mountains.’ …Ken

  • Reply
    Sara Mock
    May 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I loved the picture and story! I used to leave the horses mane and tail hair out for the birds. Afew times though, I found birds hung up in the hair in the nest, they couldn’t fly away and died. So in the garbage it goes. If the hair was cut into small pieces, that would work. The long hair makes loops, and theres the danger.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    May 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Tipper, that is a great little story. I’ve heard it told for more years than I care to remember. I also liked the photo. When I was walking with our little dog yesterday I noticed some red out in the wooded area next to the road. I had to find out what it was and after church today went off with a camera. I found the pretty red flowers, but haven’t yet identified them. At the end of each red petal is a slit or a “u”. Thanks for sharing the bird nest and fairy story.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Please tell Chitter, if she looks real close, she can see the blur of a faeries wings wearing a white gown in the lower left corner of the picture…WOW!
    What a great capture….
    Did she realize she was in one of their favorite tiny flower places?
    Thanks Tipper…

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

    The bedroom vanity was not complete without a hair receiver…A powder shaped jar with a lid and hole in the top for the hair…It was brushed and wound around the finger and then placed in the receiver…It’s hard to find complete vanity sets these days…I have one but not the expensive handpainted porcelain or high end glass ones…LOL…A lot of times the porcelain bath sets, chamber pot, pitcher and bowl, round soap holder, tooth brush holder and water glass matched the vanity sets..with their powder boxes, hair receivers, perfume bottles and trays that these set on…and I have seen the large round brushes, combs and mirrows that matched…Oh, those were the Victorian days and surely had someone to keep all that washed and emptied…ewwwww..LOL
    I loved the story, you should keep that snippet and save it for a book…
    You know how much I love faeries and that I keep accomadations for them around the house as well…Near the pond I like to keep resting posts. When they fly about they can stop and rest their wings…
    I have caught faires camped out, early in the morning, on the bed of hair in the receiver…LOL I am going to let mine read this they will get busy on some little blankies of their own…I just hate shoooinng them out of the house every morning..Lazy little dickins….
    Tipper…Oh, and occasionally they bring in tiny bits of moss..tracked all across the floor…

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    May 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    This is a sweet post Tipper..I always knew the birds would use it..My mom used to cut my brothers and Dad’s hair and she left it laying for the little birds..

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    May 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I liked that story. I used to throw hair in my gardens when trimming my husbands few hairs to try to keep some critters off the plants. I must remember to put my longer hairs in the gardens for nesting.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I love your little story.It touches my happy heart….I grew up with parents who both would leave little bits of string and yarn and fabric, and hair from the brushes, for birds and squirrels to use in their nests. And whispers of fairies and brownies who danced and played in our yard at night and sometimes left little surprises to find on early mornings.

  • Reply
    S Kalvaitis
    May 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    That is so sweet. We were taught to burn hair because if a bird built a nest with it you would get a headache. I way like your story more.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    100 strokes a day, back before shampoo was invented (more recent than you thought!) and definitely before shampooing became a daily thing, which was also around the time plastic hair brushes were born–after WWII. after that, brushing actually became harmful as they rip your hair out! i have an old bristle brush (they were made of boar bristles, to last longer than a lifetime) that i use every morning, to redistrihute the natural oils down my long hair, and never strip it off with shampoo– and you know the results! i still get a handful of hair every day and wonder how it is i somehow always seem to keep pace! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I could read stories like this all day! Things like birds using the hair left for them to bind the materials in their nests, fairies making blankets to warm themselves with the hair that was also left to them as a present stimulates the thought processes. What a nice mind trip you have sent me. It is such an escape if only temporarily. Thanks Tipper!
    Remember the start of Joni Mitchell’s song “Both sides now”…….It was something like, “Bows and flows of angel hair”. That’s one of the things that came to me when I read your story; I loved the story.

  • Reply
    Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits
    May 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Lovely story, Tipper, and equally as lovely a photo.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I knew one old lady that saved her hair and showed me a bag full when I was a kid. I thought that was the nastiest thing I had ever seen.
    One of my daughters has thick hair like mine and the other one has fine, thin hair like her dad’s family. I think it’s all in the genes. My friend took chemo and lost her hair. She said that she would never complain about her thin hair or a bad hair day ever again. Maybe that’s where Deer Hunter was going with his comment. I think your hair is beautiful in all the pictures I have seen.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Tipper, you are filled with such beauty. I just love it when it spills over in the blog for all of us to bask in.
    My grandmother had very long hair that she kept in t braids wrepped up across her head. She tool it down every night, brushed it, then re-braided it. She used the hair in the brush to wrap around the end of the braid to hold it together….guess she didn’t have any rubber bands or little scrunchies. lol

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    May 20, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hair is a beautiful thing on a girl. I am lucky I still have a full head of it.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I combed my locks one hundred strokes and looked among it’s teeth. Alas, not a single strand resided there. In fear for the birds and fairies who inhabit my realm, I did it once again, but to no avail. With tear flooded eyes I made my way to the window. With trembling hands I flung it open wide and to all my avian friends proclaimed; “Birdies you’ll have to use super glue and fairies you’ll have to keep your sweats on over your hot pants!!”
    Chitter’s picture is a treasure. I would title it “The Bloom of Innocence!” The best pictures are those that catch something the photographer missed.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 20, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I love the story! I try to remember to brush my hair before going to bed but am usually so tired it just skips my mind. I like your husbands comment …. sounds like something mine would say!

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

    A person’s hair in days of olde often got turned into mourning jewelry once they past on—they even had a special container upon their dressers to keep the hair in—I like the thought of giving it to the birds’ for their nest or for the faery’s to weave into a blanket—I shall do that from this day forward—and Tipper, I too have very fine thin hair and I tried the hundred strokes a day thing and it did nothing for me but pull more hair out so perhaps it would have done the same for your hair.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    May 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I love your story! I call the little webs that are all over the unmowed field, Faery Nests. But I think the long hair could be used for so many faery needs.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 20, 2012 at 7:26 am

    In addition to saving hair from many brushings for the birds to build their nests and the fairies to weave blankets to keep them warm so they could wave their wands for the flowers to grow, my aunts also saved their hair to cover and make pin cushions. The hair, wound into little balls, was covered with cloth and put with the sewing basket to hold the straight pins and needles. It was intended, so they said, to keep the straight pins and needles sharp and rust-free! I think all this “saving” of hair went back to the frugality of our ancestors: “Save everything; there is a use for it.”

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 7:20 am

    What a sweet story and just to think, how thoughtful we women are! Read a story set in the old days, where a woman took her hair that came out when she brushed it and made a pin cushion by stuffing in it a piece of cloth.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 20, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I love stories like this, is it a song too? It should be.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2012 at 5:48 am

    don’t you just love the Man attitude? nothing fazes them. a sweet story and perfect for the photo.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    May 20, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Now just think of all the shivering fairies caused by you not brushing your hair enough!

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