we both had to work today, but at sunset Carol and I took a walk along the waterfront. The air was warm, and a light breeze blew out of the southwest. We were standing out at the end of State Pier when I saw a swallow whiz by.
“Hey, that’s a swallow,” I said, interrupting something Carol was saying. “I think maybe it was a Barn Swallow.” I thought I had seen a yellowish color, but it might have been an effect of the setting sun.
“I told you, I saw lots of swallows flying around the bridge,” she said.
“You didn’t tell me that,” I said. Actually, she probably did tell me, but I wasn’t listening when she did. “You mean the swing span bridge over at Fish Island?”
“Yes,” she said.
We walked back along State Pier towards where the Cuttyhunk Ferry is berthed, when I saw the swallow again. It gave a funny buzzy sort of call. Then I saw it had a brown back and a dark throat. “Hey, that’s a Rough-winged Swallow,” I said. “And there’s another one.”
We watched the swallows as the swooped in among the fishing boats, obviously catching insects. Then they would sit for a moment — on the deck railing of a boat, on a rope tying one fishing boat to another, and, once, clinging to an outlet hole for a bilge pump on the side of a boat. Then they would be off flying again, doing amazing aerobatics as they swooped in among the boats and low to the water.
“Seeing the first swallow of spring is good luck,” I said. Actually I’d never heard of such a superstition before, but I said it anyway because seeing those swallows made me feel good.