I’ve heard tell there is a shortage of low-cost housing on the Peninsula – especially rentals. I’m sure that the reasons for that are complex, but it is a bit disturbing to see all the usually-empty second homes throughout our communities and, at the same time, to know that there are a whole host of people having a hard time filling that most basic of needs.
The last few days, my considerations about housing have become even more confused. The swallows are returning and we are attempting to let them know that our house is a NO VACANCY neighborhood. Not because we (probably just I) don’t want them here. They have been nesting in our Kitchen Garden for at least 20 years. Last year there were six nests out there, tucked up under the porch roof – a regular colony — and several of the swallow couples raised two broods in their seasonal homes.
But, this year there is a conflict of interest between us and our little feathered friends. We need to have that part of our house painted. I wish I could explain to the swallows that we have put off the inevitable for two-score years specifically out of deference to them. Unfortunately, their nesting season coincides perfectly with our painting season and, once they are settled in, I can’t bear to have the nests knocked down.
Right now, the swallows are just beginning to arrive and they are in house-hunting mode. Our first ‘inquiry’ for the season began with a knock at our front door. Well… almost. Nyel was about to go outside for something and, through the window, he saw a swallow perched on the pussy willow wreath that hangs on the door. They looked at each other for a minute or so before the swallow took off – long enough for communication to take place.
Swallow: “Season’s greetings! I’m back!”
Nyel: “No nesting this year. Go away.”
Nyel followed up his end of the conversation by taking down all the old nests (while I was off on an errand) and putting up some fluttery hanging things as deterrents against a new building boom. I was upset by it all – Nyel says it’s a misplaced nesting instinct on my part – but I do recognize our need to have the area painted. I am resigned. For now.