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Sunday 3 July 2011

One swallow

"Sheet music" by Susie Mallett

One swallow does not make a summer

Just as I suspected the weather changed as it often does when Mid-Summer Day has past us by.

Last weekend the temperatures rose, it was still stormy but the air was warming up.

I was sitting at my computer last Sunday evening with the balcony door and bathroom window wide open when I heard a commotion outside. I looked out of the window beside me to find the sky teaming with what looked like hundreds of black fighter-planes.

I went out the back to get a better view with the sound effects and discovered the skies at last full with swallows, diving and soaring while feeding in the evening sunlight. It seemed like summer had arrived now that more than one swallow was about!

It is funny how things like this, although they happen at just about the same time each year, still surprise us. Until now I have been huddled up in the flat in the evenings but last Sunday the warmth arrived and brought the screeching swallows with it. I was able to go quietly out to sit on the balcony beside my collared dove and enjoy the arrival of summer and its swallows.

I remember when, one June evening about forty years ago, I was in the garden in Norwich with my Mum. I disturbed a flying-ants nest while weeding. Mum and I flattened ourselves face upwards on the lawn for about ten minutes while the swallows dived down to snatch up these tasty morsels just inches from our noses.

Swallows always nested in the coal-house at my Grandparent’s pub. I remember being held high on Dad’s shoulders to view the row of what my Dad called “choirboys”, swallow-babies, peeping down over the edge of the nest. There were always so many baby swallows in that nest that I was ever watchful so that if one fell out Dad would be immediately summoned to pop it back in again.

The photograph above is not of the arrival of the swallows but of their gathering together to leave, in this case from Lake Balaton, Hungary.


I wrote this last week and although the swallows are still around I have not seen or heard much of them as the weather turned for the worse again. It has been a week of cold rainy days, today’s temperature not reaching more than 13 degrees!

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