A Swirl of Swallows

Tree Swallow in flight.

Joy lies in the connections we make  ­– with each other and for me most of all with nature.

Yesterday was a day of pure joy, and all on account of the swallows who welcomed me into their world.

Swallows are fast-flying birds who make their living by flying around catching insects in the air. They are summer birds at the Fill, and they have been slowly arriving here since February.  They’re here now in numbers.

We host four resident species: Tree Swallow, Violet-green, Cliff, and Barn. All four were swirling around the alder grove near the kiosk yesterday. There must have been a bug hatch near the ground because the swallows stayed low, nearly brushing the tops of the grass stalks as they flew. They skimmed the earth at incredible speed, around and around the grove, a living carousel that sang their little songs as they worked.

They took me right back to my childhood, when I would stand watching the carved horses of the Fun Forest’s carousel  prance around and around in an endless parade of elegance.  My favorite horse was a wild black one with tossing mane and flaring tail.  I liked him best because he was the fastest – or at least so it seemed to me, despite the fact that his wooden hooves were attached to the platform the same as all the other steeds. What does reality matter to a child with an imagination?

I was that child again yesterday, as the swallows swirled around me, drawing me into their magical merry-go-round, singing and swooping.  As I turned one last time to follow their flight, a black shape rocketed past me. It was a Vaux’s Swift, a bird even faster and sleeker than the swallows. The wildest  one. The fastest. My favorite.

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