running of the swifts

Last Sunday eve I met Lance in northwest. The cloud cover was impressive, rain impending—and yet, over to Chapman High School we went to sit on the wet lawn under the big spruce tree and watch the Swifts fly. Have you heard about this? During late September, hundreds of tiny, sparrow-like birds roost in the massive ancient chimney. As dusk approaches, you get to watch as they swarm around in the cool evening air, feasting on invisible clouds of insects. The multitude swirls and swirls, then blasts apart into chaos, then snaps back into its funnel-like formation again. You can watch this spectacle for hours—it's very Hitchcockian. And just before dark, in a grand crescendo, they all at once swoop into the chimney for the night.

If you're lucky like we were, you'll glimpse a wise old hawk barrel through and snatch a swift in its grizzled talons. You see, he'd been sitting there  silently watching the whole time ... waiting. He'll escape with the thing shrieking inside his claws and then gorge himself on hot bloody bird parts. Sad, sort of, but part of the cycle of life, too.