Yesterday, on our way down the driveway with a long pole and net in hand to catch some aquatic insects for our little bathtub pond,
we saw some violet-green swallows swooping overhead, the first of the season. We have nest-boxes for them, though for the past 8 or 10 years, the chestnut-backed chickadees have used the boxes instead. Still, every year the swallows come, reminding me of the lovely Puccini opera, La Rondine. The last poem I wrote, before poetry left me completely, opening the door for a life as a writer of novels and essays, was inspired by the opera and the birds, and looking for it just now, I realize that it must have been burned in the last Bonfire of the Vanities. I remember an image in the poem, that the wingtips just touched like fingers, which I thought of yesterday as we actually saw two swallows mate in the air, falling in an amorous embrace, and then wheeling off separately.
I am sitting at my desk with the window open. I heard loud buzzing and squawking earlier and looked up to see a pair of red-breasted sapsuckers chasing one another among the trees. They are reliable spring visitors and they nest nearby because we often see and hear them over the course of the summer. In June we once saw a male sapsucker teaching the young to feed from holes he drilled in a cotoneaster. He’d encourage and the fledglings would complain. The little holes would fill with sap and insects attracted by its sweetness. Eventually the lanky youngsters found the holes and fed, awkwardly at first. One flailed against the screen door to our deck, spreadeagled across the mesh and looking into the kitchen, wondering if there might be something better to eat inside.
I thought it would be good to walk around outside with a camera. I hoped for the sapsuckers, maybe even the return of the swallows. But instead, the beautiful geometry of an apple tree just coming into bloom:
And as I stopped to kill a very large slug heading to the raspberries, I surprised this pretty tree frog:
The birds were quiet but the morning so green and rich. If I’d taken a colander, I’d have picked enough dandelion greens for pizza tomorrow. But they’ll wait.
4 thoughts on “flown”
Really enjoyed reading this; I feel as if I’ve just been for a lovely walk!
We have swallows nearby—they come back every year to a park where the city has put up purple martin condos—but I’ve yet to see sapsuckers in my area. Nice that their aerial tryst brought back the words of your lost poem.
The sapsuckers are very companionable, Chris. You hear them and then realize they’re right next to the garden or deck and are not worried at all about our proximity. And they’re so vivid!
Sounds like they have that in common with the chickadees. They sit inches away while I refill the feeders. Can’t convince them to take seeds from my hand though.
A few bold chestnut-backeds will eat from my hand in winter but now it’s as though we’ve never met!