Letter From Langdon: Swallows

[imgbelt img=House3.jpg]Every year, the swallows come back to Capistrano — and to Langdon. We found that the Swallow family was a good neighbor.

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[imgcontainer left] [img:swallows1.jpg] [source]Richard Oswald

After the flooding Missouri River took our house, we moved into a friend’s vacant house on the hill. Only it wasn’t entirely vacant. The swallows were there first.

There was no choice but evacuation. The water was coming. 

That’s why we flew the coop.

It’s been almost a year since the Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Inundation Plan took effect. Levees, fields, animals, trees…our house!…were washed over and away by 120 days of a government controlled Act of God visited on us from up north. 

People here in northwest Missouri are still making repairs to farms and buildings, cleaning up, planting another crop where possible on fertile land, the land that wasn’t rendered barren by tons of sterile river sand. 

Basically, we’ve just been trying to cope. 

We lived all summer long in a borrowed house among other people’s belongings. That was tough. The aged couple that once lived there had both passed on. The house wasn’t for sale, but the couple’s kids owned the place and generously told us to move in and make ourselves at home in a house that was high enough to be out of the flood. We did the best we could.

We were not alone last summer up there on that hill, however. Another couple beat us to it. They were hard workers with a family to feed. Up at dawn like us, busy, busy, busy all day long until dark. It wasn’t bad as it sounds. Call them what you will: Itinerants. Migrants. Seasonal. Sun Catchers. 

I choose Reliable, because every year just like clock work, the swallows come back to Capistrano and to Langdon.

While it may have been my first summer on the hill, clearly it was not the first time for the Swallow family. Their mud nest was already on the front porch when we got there. That’s where we drank coffee most mornings, watching the sunrise and waiting for the water to recede.

Home is where the heart is. I sure can’t argue with that, and the irony of turning the water hose against them to wash away their home on the front porch didn’t escape my flooded conscience. So we practiced restraint and did the Corps one better by holding back the water.

Live and let live. Besides, the Swallows were there first.

The family inside shared space with the family outside and their nest under the eaves. 

They spent hours diving, circling, incubating eggs, devouring clouds of mosquitoes. We did some circling ourselves, waiting for the water to go down in the valley below.

Summer wore on. The couple on the porch raised several demanding chicks. At first tiny heads barely showed over the edge of the nest. Mom and Dad worked hard to feed the brood. As they got stronger and bigger we wondered how the nest could hold them all. As the bursting point neared, flying lessons started, until soaring offspring were hard to tell from swooping parents. 

It was peaceful coexistence for everyone — but the bugs.  

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