‘When the swallows come back to Capistrano…….
All the mission bells will ring
The chapel choir will sing.’
So sang Pat Boone back in the 50s. Well there was none of that auld carry-on when the swallows came back to Coote’s lane, to my house in particular. To be honest when the swallows come back to Coote’s Lane (and they do) I pity them. I genuinely do. And I pity them because they’re not coming back to the same house – well they are, and they aren’t. The house is pretty much the same as when they first arrived here (in the former owner’s time) but the spot that they return to now has changed. Not a lot. But a lot as far as a returning swallow is concerned. Or so yours truly thinks. Who is not a swallow or a sparrow or even a ‘quare hawk’ (though there are those out there who think otherwise).
The swallows first settled down (nested actually) in the wooden beams in our car port which was Jim-Bob-Dandy as no car ever set tyre in that space. It was a calm and relatively peaceful spot. Good choice, swallows. Over the years, however, children arrived. Four of them. Who were far from calm and peaceful. Who were noisy, boisterous and constantly entering and
exiting through that space. Often with friends in tow. Noisy friends. Boisterous friends. That didn’t do anything for the swallows’ nerves yet it didn’t deter them. They kept returning. Maybe they instinctively knew that children, even noisy ones, were not a threat. Hey, who knows what swallows know, or think. We humans, after all, don’t have the franchise on all that goes on in the ‘animal’ world. Thank God for that says you. And animals, I feel sure, ‘say’ the same. Even more so.
The four children have long flown the nest, but the swallows still return to nest. God love them. And God love them because now we have this lighting system in the car port whereby the lights switch on (after dark) every time a living creature – such as a human (usually me coming home from the pub) enters in. Though it could be a cat or dog or a very large spider! Bottom line is – there’s no constant, or consistent, darkness for the swallows to curl up in and sleep. And darkness, as those of you who have difficulty sleeping know, is so, so important in helping you to fall into a deep, or even a shallow, sleep. No way are my swallows having a good night’s sleep. Between the comings and goings of yours truly, cats and dogs and god only knows what other creatures (I actually saw a fox, yes a fox, passing through the car port one night) the lights keep switching on and off. ‘Till dawn breaks and it’s time for the swallows to shower and shave and swish off into the ether to forage for their young. You know something – I think my swallows may be neurotic! I know they are sleep-deprived and sleep deprivation can lead to all kinds of personality disorders and dysfunction. Even in swallows! And what am I doing about it? Well, at the risk of sounding ‘strange’, and being labelled a ‘quare hawk’, I talked to the swallows! I mean people talk to their pets, to trees, to themselves, what the hell’s wrong with talking to swallows? Anyway, I stood beneath the beams of our car port one night and I told them: ‘Guys (and gals, of course) this is not a good place to be, I want you to enjoy your summer here but I do not want you returning to Africa, or wherever, with personality disorders because of the lighting in my car port. And even though I shall miss you terribly I think it best that ye don’t return.’ Will the swallows heed me? Watch this space. Finally, I recently rang 11811 from my mobile phone for a phone number. It cost me €4.30 plus vat, €5.29 in total! That’s the price of a pint and a packet of dry-roasted peanuts! In this day and age when I can ring my children in Wales, Lisbon, Berlin or the States for zero Euros – it was, I have to say, hard to swallow!