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April 3rd  2011    Tim Candler

    Ten days ago I was wearing the short trousers and beyond the glare of my blotchy knees I caught sight of a Tree Swallow.  It has been chilly since, cold, frosty, coat and socks weather.  But Tree Swallows always do that.  They arrive in a false Spring, sit shivering on the electric line and I know they blame me.

    It was a single Tree Swallow I saw.  Gliding by the Blue Bird Box, and then he was gone.  This morning I saw four Tree Swallows all excited and brash from their winter holiday, and they were inspecting the Blue Bird box which they were probably born in.  This certainly ruined the calm for Blue Birds, but it does mean that soon we should see Barn Swallows. 

     Year after year, sometime now, there are large white feathers by the mowing machines under the Barn Swallows nests in the barn.  I don't know where these feathers come from, and I decided to stop wondering about them because obsession is not good for mental health.  I chose instead to think of them as Violets, let them have their magic moment, and stop associating these white feathers with the arrival of Barn Swallows. 

    But this year, though I have not yet turned the barn upside down looking for them, I have seen no sign of white feathers anywhere in the barn.  And I can't help but see ill-omen and loneliness and witches brew and the long cold finger of a mental health professional, because increasingly I am convinced we might not see Barn Swallows this year.

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