Yesterday was a slightly strange day weather-wise; cool, fresh, but mostly dry. Again, our walk was late in the day, out towards the coast and through the fields, refreshed with the rain of Wednesday, but hardly less brown; the paths a little sticky and less dusty, but just waiting for another sunny day.
We walked maybe three and a half miles, and saw just three people and a dog. Most had had their walk, or stayed at home. Wheeling above us as we descended Townsend Road, skirting the nature reserve, there was a mass of swifts; more than I can remember seeing together for a long time; perhaps as many as seventy or eighty. They move so quickly that any number over about a dozen are hard to count with any accuracy.
These birds were surely from more than one roost, flying high in the cool air of early evening; feeding, I expect, on equally high-flying insects. They are such a sight of summer, with perhaps the first brood out at flying lessons. If so, they are already very good at it.
A line from this morning’s psalm (144) comes to me: “Reach down your hand from on high….” as the psalmist imagines God entering human life with power and saving grace. Swirling wings and gentle breezes bring that sense of movement and constant and insistent life that influences us, but is also beyond us; that we feel through nature, but experience even more deeply in the knowledge of God’s providence and love.
The warmth of the sun may not have been on our backs these past two days, but the countryside is breathing the cool dampness of relief. More rain may drive us from the beach, but it will bring growth to the meadows and the promise of a harvest yet to come.