The Return

The famed cliff swallows don’t return to the mission in San Juan Capistrano (traditionally on March 19) anymore, but the barn swallows still return to Boise.  In fact, they arrived yesterday and I for one am very glad to see them back.   
First of all, they’re cheerful, and handsomely colored; dark navy blue with rusty orange (almost the same colors as our Boise State football team, come to think of it).  They like to sit on the tops of the street signs in the early mornings and show no fear as the dogs and I pass quite close to them.  They build teacup-shaped nests of mud, often near the ceilings of sheltered front porches in my neighborhood.  Some people object (to the mess and protective parents), but most of my neighbors are tickled to have them.  Because they’re cool and they eat flying bugs.  Like mosquitoes.
Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale) T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land ), and Keats (To Autumn) among others mention swallows in their works.  On the other hand, the swallow motif has been a popular choice for tattoos (especially for sailors) for centuries; the symbolism implying that, like the bird, the wearer would always return from the journey.  
Oh, and in case you wondered, swallows are not swifts.  We have white-throated swifts in Idaho too, but I’ve never seen one.  They nest on rock cliffs. Not a lot of those in my neighborhood.    
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