You're So Vane

No outdoor garden décor would be complete without a handsome weather vane set high atop a barn or shed to direct the gardener or pioneering meteorologist which way the wind blows.

But most people keep weather vanes around for purely ornamental reasons; dating way way back to the Triton figure built in 48 B.C. to adorn the Tower of the Winds in Greece. And today's rooster weather vanes are throwbacks to the ninth century A.D., when the pope allegedly ordered every church in Europe to put a figure of a rooster on its dome or steeple as a daily reminder of Jesus' prophecy to Peter: ""I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me." (Luke 22:34).

Learn something new every day.

We've been eyeing the barn and thinking about contracting a welder to create a nice weather vane for the very top of the building (maybe of the late Sadie dog?). But simpler and more to the point might be a garden weathervane situated out by our raspberry bushes, compost, raised beds, and permaculture herb garden (I know—those over-ambitious Better Farmers. You'll thank us come summertime, we promise). Yes, that does sound nice. Then we could lie on a couch in the library or gaze wistfully off the back porch and mutter softly Dylan's famous words: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Don't have a friend who welds? You can make your own weather vane with some copper pipe, sheet steel, hack saw, and a few other choice ingredients. The Web site Our House has some very easy-to-follow directions that'll have you up on wind patterns in no time. There are also some very lovely weather vanes available here sure to please any fancy.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.