Friday change of pace: The swallows are gone

I knew autumn was closing in fast when, suddenly, the swallows were gone. I’m not exactly sure when they disappeared. I know it was still relatively warm when, in the back of my mind, something seemed out of place in the evenings. I then realized the swallows were missing.

We really love the swallows, even though they can be noisy and they make messes nesting in our shop and hay barn. But they keep the mosquito and bug population well in check. We have hardly any mosquitos, even with a lot of standing water.

And nothing is more relaxing on a cool summer evening than sitting in a comfortable chair on the porch, watching thousands of swallows swoop and dance over the pastures and pond, sometimes rippling the water with a touch of a wing.

I should do some research to see how far our swallows have to fly to get to their southern destinations. I wish them well in their travels.

Even after the swallows were gone, we still enjoyed watching some cute little bats flitting around the yard each evening. Right up until the last few nights, when it got really cold, we were seeing bats. I assume they have now hibernated. Some bats fly south, some hibernate, and some fly south for a ways, and then hibernate.

I like bats, even though one sick bat flew smack into my wife’s forehead in downtown SLC, requiring rabies shots. Bats are an indication of a healthy ecosystem.

So the bats, the swallows, the wild geese, the hummingbirds, the red-wing blackbirds, and some species of hawks are gone for the winter. But we still have a lot of varieties of birds and other wildlife to keep us company through the cold weather. In January, we’ll even start to see majestic bighorn sheep in the cliffs above the stream corridor.

The season has changed, as it always does. Life is different today. Not worse, but different. Mother Nature varies each day, but is steadfastly consistent over the long term. The rhythms of nature roll on.

The swallows will be back when spring blossoms. I’m counting on it. We’ll all be a year older. The key is to enjoy each changing day — with or without swallows.