I fell in love with the swifts last year, birds that play in the air the same way dolphins do in the sea, with every evidence of unadulterated joy in the way they careen between buildings, skim the surface of rivers, chase each other through the heavens. When they left for the winter, it was as much a source of falling spirits as the grey skies themselves.
Today, we saw our first few returnees: a pair swooping through the street corridors near our flat, chirping loudly at each other, seemingly investigating an old nest in the eaves of a nearby building. I stopped and watched them fly for a few minutes, and I wasn’t the only one. A older man, and a young woman with her child stood on the sidewalk with me, wordless, hypnotized by the birds.
Aimee says they have Blackberries, co-ordinating their flights. And pretty close. According to this site, the first returnees are due in Berlin April 24 (two days late, guys, unless you’ve been cooling your tailfeathers in the southern parts of the city). The main “advance guard” isn’t due until May 7th.
Maybe my favorite moment from last year’s travels: sitting with a bottle of cold local wine, a bit of sausage and cheese and fresh tomatoes by the side of the river in Les Eyzies de Tayac, watching the swifts chase each other like inexhaustible seven-year-olds, reading, drinking my wine out of a plastic cup until the sun went down.