|Photo thanks to FreeImages.*|
Swallows are much on my mind of late. They love our porches, view them as prime real estate.
We always let them build in front. Why? I don't know. The front of the house should be what we're more concerned about, right? The mess the birds leave behind, the cleaning up of the droppings. But a number of years back, when the swallows first decided that we were their own private Capistrano, I just couldn't say no to them. Instead, I called the girls over to the window, we watched a pair of swallows investigate this corner, then that one. We imagined their conversations: "Yes, dear, the corner you like is lovely, but think of the children. The corner I chose will be cozier, don't you think?" Then the swallows would start a family, and the girls and I followed the family's progress as babies appeared, cried and chirped, were fed, grew, flew the nest.
Every year, on the front porch, they build, they leave a mess, we clean up, they raise their brood, and then they're gone.
This year, a pair scoped out the back porch. I guess they heard it was a builder's market at the Edmisten house, and two corners on the front porch were already taken.
That's enough! Atticus and I cried. We'll have bird droppings all over the back porch! The grill! The lawn chairs! We are putting out foot (feet) down!
Oh, but they're crafty, those swallows. This is a determined pair, and once they had their eyes on a building site, they did not want to give up or move on. Every day, they start building. A little mud, some dried grass, dab, dab, dab. Atticus and I knock their foundation down, sweep it away. The swallows attempt some half-hearted dive bombing, but they really aren't as aggressive as everyone says. They swoop near us, but don't seem to have the heart to really attack their potential landlords. One day, I took the dog out back and I caught the swallows red-handed, flying away from their first mudding of the day. They both landed on the power line that crosses the backyard. I could tell they were trying not to look at each other, pretending they didn't know each other. Pssst, just ignore me for now ... maybe she'll think we're not together. We're not the ones trying to build that nest. That's right, Missy, just move along with the dog. Nothing to see here.
That cemented my love for them.
We've swept some mud away the last couple of days, but I'm about to give up. They are too clever, too determined, too beautiful for me. I can't bear to thwart their plans anymore.
What I have is yours, swallows. I hope you will name one of your children after me.
They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.
They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.
The round up this week is at A Year of Reading.
*In the public domain.