Thursday, 7 April 2011

First Swallow


The first swallow of the summer today soaring over the Downs in Bristol, a welcome black streak with forked tail against a brilliant blue sky. It is wonderful to see them. I always love the return of these birds, and perhaps especially the swifts, which I haven't seen yet. they scream and zoom across the roof tops with such vigor.


Richard Mabey writes about swifts in his book Nature Cure - at his joy in seeing them each year:

“As a relationship my thing with swifts is so one sided as to be hardly worthy of the name. The birds don’t give a fig about me or any of us. Yet they are connected with us indirectly, even when we are not aware of them, through the environments and senses that we share. We respond to spring, to the lift of fine weather, to the basic biological urge to play… On Ascension Day I was sent this short poem out of the blue:

May, Just into

Double figures.

Everything green

And brilliant-

The first warm day.

Soft shoes, no socks,

Then you call out

The swifts are back!

Listen. Look up!

Listen. Look up! Did birds like swifts arriving mysteriously in the spring, reappearing from nowhere at dawn, play their part in the generation of resurrection stories? Do they still register at the corners of our vision and reason, something immanent? Despite our science and our humanism, our whole culture is infused with myths and symbols of landscape and nature, emblems of the seasons, of decay and rebirth, of the boundaries between the wild and tame, myths of migration and transmigration of invisible monsters and lands of lost content.”

I hope you see them soon, I will be scouring the skies until they arrive.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary, Swallows are fun to watch and so graceful on wing. Here in the far north we don't get to see them to often, and the ones we do see are usually ones that have gone a stray. Still chilly here with lots of snow around the house. Last couple days the high has only made it up to +33F.
    Cheers, Jim