Wednesday 14 May 2008

it feels like years since it's been here...

I ventured out into the spring sunshine at lunchtime today to go for a run. I don't generally need much encouragement to flee my desk, but I really like running when the sun's out. I run all year round, of course, and I'd never exactly say that I enjoy it, but there's something especially soothing about sticking your sunglasses on and running in the sun. I'm still going out in my thermal long-sleeved tops, mind you, but then I've always been a bit of a masochist when it comes to running, and I like it when I get really, really hot and sweaty as it always makes me feel like I've had to work that little bit harder. Besides, I've started leaving the hat, gloves and windproof jacket at home, so things must be looking up. It was lovely outside here today. Warm, but with a lovely breeze - strong enough to be cooling but never strong enough to feel like a headwind. A good way to spend your lunch hour, I think.

As I was running along the new path down by the river, before hooking back towards the office, I looked up and saw that the sky was filled with the sleek, streamlined shapes of swallows. They were swooping and diving and generally making flying look like it's not just a mode of transportation but a really great game. Now, we all know that one swallow does not a summer make, but they are the traditional harbingers of the summer and there were five or six of them swirling around up there so..... is it safe to wonder out loud if we might actually get a bit of summer this year? A proper summer. Y'know - one where it actually stops raining for a bit so that the sun can come out?

Now, i wouldn't want you to think that I keep a journal of these things like some kind of low-rent Bill Oddie, but I can't help but notice that I didn't spot a single swallow around here until 3rd June last year.

Oh no. I'm nothing like Bill Oddie.

Nothing at all (although I do note the grey flashes in that beard...)

So what conclusions can we draw from the fact that I've spotted a swallow a good three weeks earlier than I did last year?

1) That we're going to have a really fantastic summer this year. Really hot and with loads of sun. Glastonbury's going to be brilliant.

2) Nothing at all. The number of swallows in the sky bears very little relation to what kind of weather we'll be having over the next few months. Anyway, what about global warming?

3) That I'm an feckless, near-sighted eejit who barely looks in the sky and couldn't tell the difference between a swan and a swallow from a distance of anything greater than about 10 feet.

My money's on a combination of 2 and 3, but there's surely no harm in hoping for number 1, eh?

Or - and here's a thought - instead of rabbiting on about the weather all the time, maybe I could either:

a) just move somewhere with a somewhat more clement and predictable climate.
b) shut up

Or is this what happens to all British people when they get to my age? Mild Weather Obsession (MWO) brought about by living in a damp and temperate climate subject to slight fluctuations but no great extremes? How many words do the English have for rain? Is it more than the Eskimos have for snow? It must be close.....


  1. Are you sure they weren't swifts?? They are what we have loads of around here (not far from you).

  2. tina - I think we had this debate last year too. They could easily have been! They're migratory too though, and I know they're not specifically mentioned in the proverb, but same (kinda) difference? These birds all look the same to me. And I used to be in the YOC too.

  3. I desperately hope we're going to have a good summer. But not til I break up for the holidays, please!

    (And it's all magpies round my way - they must nest close by. I am forever saluting, saying hello, and asking after their wives.)

  4. Was it an African or European swallow?

    (sorry, had to be done)

  5. For me here in Chicago, the first Cardinal is the harbinger of Spring, and no Cardinal George of the Chicago Archdiocese please.

    Btw ST, I forwarded you Earworms this week from Joe the Troll, I hope you like them. Very interesting stuff.

  6. "How many words do the English have for rain? Is it more than the Eskimos have for snow? It must be close..."

    I'd hazard a guess that we know more words about weather than everyone else. Combined.

  7. I'll try our 100+ inches of snow for your rain!

  8. I love swallows. They're mental. Every year we get a bunch of them nesting in my dad's shed. They were back a couple of weeks ago though - earlier than yours. Maybe that means it's going to be an EXCELLENT summer. Or maybe they just came back early because they knew last week was as good as it's going to get.