After a long afternoon spent thinning corn, I stood in the far field with two fellow farmers. The sun was late-afternoon golden, and our shadows were getting long--signs that we'd likely finished our work hours, though no one was wearing a watch to confirm. So we stood there, busy with conversation but no more energy to work, and watched the swallows in full swing.
They like to perch on the stakes that mark every other tomato plant. The babies, who last week had fuzzy heads and chests, now look just like adults: black, shiny, and alert. But still they sit on the stakes and wait for someone to come by with a bug, mouths open and wings flapping as soon as they spot a parent in nearby airspace. When they get tired of waiting, they take flight themselves, little one-ounce acrobats bug hunting.
On the other side of the farm, a nest high above the barn door is bursting with four baby swallows. Hatched last week, they've been swelling up daily. Two busy parents seemingly spend all day swooping in and out of the doorway with beakfulls of bugs. Someone predicted that they'd fly today (not a bad guess, since they're running out of space in the nest). It just seems so improbable that they would leap out of that nest, so high up in the air. But I suppose that's the whole idea of forward progress: taking the leap. Next week I hope we'll find them out on the tomato stakes, over on the other side of the farm, ever bigger still.