The other day I realised I hadn’t seen a swift in awhile. When did they leave—the end of August? I hadn’t been paying attention to nature, to the world beyond my grumpy household and my own weird, crabbed feelings. The sky felt so empty without their soaring wings, cleaving the lightsome air, summer embodied.
The weather had been murderous when the swifts were arriving in Europe this spring. They were struck in the thousands by high winds over Greece, falling onto balconies and plazas emptied by the pandemic. Each swift I saw had survived catastrophe.
Later that afternoon I spotted a few, the last swifts, in the walled garden surrounding the priest’s house, flying low above the lawn, chatting among themselves, getting ready for the long perilous journey to Africa, and to whatever strange fortune might greet them.