Swallows and Gulps

Went along on the afternoon nature walk with the students, bringing up the rear. They have learned so much from this daily exercise. They are quiet and observant as they walk now, since they know they will see more birds that way. Each afternoon they log how long they walked and what they saw.

We passed a purple martin house, but it looked to be inhabited by sparrows. Maybe not, because a block or so on I saw several fork-tailed swallows swooping in awe-inspiring flight.

Despite having sons who all went through the airplane fascination stage, I never progressed beyond basic identification of helicopters, jets, and biplanes, and those weird surveillance planes that look like they have a revolving restaurant on top. I would have been absolutely no help to Cary Grant's Walter Eckland spotting Japanese aircraft in "Father Goose".

I'm much better at bird-in-flight identification, but I don't know if these birds were purple martins or barn swallows. They flew with such carefree precision and perfect form, I could have watched them all afternoon.

No swallowtail butterflies this walk, but a lovely lesser fritillary posing like a centerfold. As always, I am grateful for my parents who shared with me the wonderful names of butterflies, birds, fish, and rocks. Must tell the students that the swallowtails are named for the forked tails of the birds, not for any chew-and-swallow, as I believed at their age.

It's been a long time since I pondered rose quartz, snowflake obsidian, amethyst, lace agate, or tiger's eye. And if I ever write a mystery novel, the female detective could be named Chimney Swift.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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