The kingdom has not been at all peaceable this week. Torrential rain aside, there have been a few set-backs in the garden.
The other night, I was headed out to wander the garden with a friend (carrying glasses of champagne to toast her recent accomplishments) after we’d returned from an evening’s work. Unfortunately, in my absence, a couple of cows had dropped by.
Cows that do not belong to us.
Scratch two rows of Walla walla sweet onions, some garlic, a row of magenta cosmos, a few mouthfuls of fig tree, half of my favorite Italian prune tree, and ALL OF MY SWEET PEAS! My beautifully fragrant sweet peas, the first ones I’d grown since my now 27 year old daughter was 3. My just-unfolding-into-bloom sweet peas, started from seed given to me by my friend Heidi from her garden at Alexeli Vineyards—all gone with nothing left of 6 feet of handmade trellis but a tangle of twine and bamboo splinters.
Angry and upset doesn’t even come close. Words that I don’t ever use could be inserted here. It was probably providential that it was too late for me to go over and ‘talk’ with the owner of the cows.
However, after a calming and rational chat with my friend, a glass of champagne, and the prospect of a good night’s sleep, I was able to adopt a more Scarlett O’Hara-ish attitude—tomorrow would be another day, after all.
But the swallows are another matter entirely.
I have an extreme fondness for swallows. I think it started in high school when I was in phys. ed. class, stuck in the outfield during softball. That was the worst position to play me in because I really DO throw like a girl—a 4 year old girl. Combine that with my lack of competitiveness, and it would have been better for the team to have played me somewhere that someone could have kept a closer eye on me. Swallow watching in the outfield was far more engaging and gratifying than trying to field a ball that—even if I were to get it—had no hope of getting back to a base before the runner celebrated her next birthday. And, unlike softball, swallow watching is something I still love. I’ve never been hit in the jaw with a line-drive from a swallow, either.
We have the iridescent purpley-green tree swallows at our house, and every year, a few pairs of them nest in the boxes around the garden. We have the pretty dark and terra-cotta colored barn swallows too, but they tend to stay close to the barn in the neighboring pasture—something the cows should try doing.
I guard their boxes from usurping wasps and English sparrows who want to sub-let the nests, and in return, I get hours of enjoyment watching them, a mosquito-free garden, and a constant reminder of one of my favorite verses from the Psalms, “The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young…”.
This year, I put in a new box for them by the clothesline, because they kept thinking they needed to nest in the dryer vent. Obviously I don’t use the dryer much—never actually—but someday I might want to, and even I know that having old nesting material stuck down a dryer vent could be disastrous! Plus, they’re so darn cute when the whole family lines up on the clothesline
Monday ended in tragedy for them though. Somehow, a blue jay figured out how to get his head (while hanging upside down) into the box. I was working in another part of the garden, and didn’t hear or see the defenseless swallows as they swooped and chittered helplessly—the jay destroying their nest and stealing their babies. By the time I got over there and heard them, it was too late.
Now, I get the whole food chain, ‘circle of life’ thing as well as anybody, but I still felt horrible. I was sad for the poor parent birds who stayed and watched what was left of their nest for the entire evening, and all of the next day. I felt sad for the little baby birds that became some Jabba the Hutt blue jay’s dinner. In the end though, all I could do was jay-proof the boxes for next year…one of those sadder-but-wiser moments.
Fortunately—just like Scarlett said, today is another day.
A much better one.
The rain is gone, and so is the marauding jay. The swallows are still here, and there is so much about today to enjoy!
I hope your day goes well, and thanks for visiting!