Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swallows and Dragonflies

Last week it was the swallows, flying in over the harbor to flutter down on trees in the scrubby bay side of the beach, singly and in twos and threes, swooping in from across the water and over the road where I stood, watching. Other people walked, biked, drove by without seeming to notice, or did not stop. There were hundreds of birds, trees-full, settled for a moment until, by silent code, all would alight, wing once or twice around, tracing arcs, and then group together to settle again. Head tipped back, transfixed, of course I thought of "The Birds," and how Tippi Hedren ran, children in hand, heads bowed, screaming, as the birds flew in to peck. These swallows -- I called them swifts, the word just seemed right, but learned later they were tree swallows -- had that strength in numbers, power to make all of those oblivious beachgoers take note, but did not feel menacing at all.

This week there are dragonflies, hurrying in wide circles around the yard outside my kitchen door, where once before I sat surrounded by a swarm of them, something of a totem for me. I've found their bodies before and saved their clear, veined wings, ephemeral things with more strength than I may ever summon.
It's dizzying, chaotic, trying to follow them in the oncoming twilight, keep them in focus, in view, their hurried and effortless loops tipping vertically and horizontally like intertwined circus hoops.

There's nothing to do but sit here in the midst of them despite any other plans. I know I'm just by happenstance in the midst of whatever fall business they're about, just like the swallows were stopping off along the bay beach, serendipitously, when I was, too.
But both moments feel like blessed visitations to me.

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Spring rain in the railyard, Centralia, Washington