A rare bird in Hintonburg

“I think it speaks to the neighbourhood and its random, whimsical, artsy nature,” says Hintonburg resident Natalie Hanson. “It makes you want to pay it forward too, it’s great.” Photo by Ted Simpson.

When the doorbell rings at 10 o’clock at night in Hintonburg it’s seldom a good thing, but for Natalie Hanson of Hamilton Avenue it may be another visit from her neighbourhood gifting fairy, leaving only a flamingo on the doorstep and then vanishing into the dark night.

It all started during Christmas 2012, when Hanson fancied a flamingo lighting ornament she discovered at Canadian Tire. Unfortunately, the item was out of stock across the entire city. Not to be defeated easily, Hanson got creative and cobbled together her own ornaments using lawn flamingos. However, she was still lacking the key ingredient: flamingos.

“Lawn flamingos in December are hard to come by,” says Hanson. “I did what anybody in Hintonburg does. I took it to Twitter and Facebook and said I was looking for lawn flamingos.”

It didn’t take long for her first neon pink friend to arrive. “I got home from work one afternoon and there he was sitting in the snow bank, a couple of days later another one shows up,” said Hanson.

“It was such a random one-off post, it’s not like I’ve gone on and on about my love of flamingos, though I do think they are ridiculous birds,” she says.

Every couple of months throughout the winter, another flamingo arrived, one made of knitted yarn, another fashioned out of thin metal, big ones and small ones; all to the delight of Hanson and her family.

Hanson has been active in the community since moving here in 1999. Hanson worked for two years as Executive Director of the Westboro BIA, served on the board of Newswest, been Volunteer Coordinator for the Hintonburg 5K and was recently volunteer Chair of the Board at the Ottawa Theatre School. Her partner, Jeff Leiper, has spent time on the Board of Directors for the Hintonburg Community Association, with a two year term as the association president. He is currently in the running for City Councillor in Kitchissippi Ward.

It seems someone in the neighbourhood has decided to pay it back (or maybe pay it forward?) to the couple in true Hintonburg fashion.

“It’s a random fun thing. I think it speaks to the neighbourhood and its random, whimsical, artsy nature,” says Hanson.

With winter finally come to an end, so does the supply of flamingos for this season. The fairy seems to come and go with the snow, the most recent delivery coming after a bitter March blizzard.

“I’m sure I could figure out who it is, but I don’t really want to know who you are,” Hanson says of the flamingo gifter. “Whoever did this, they got me through the winter, so thank you!”

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