swifts swarm into the chimney

…to lift my spirits. That’s saying a lot for a city, really.

I picked up my energetic 10-year-old from school on about the most brilliant September day of the month. Aren’t these days delicious? When it’s so chilly in the morning we start smelling people’s wood fires in the valley, and we pull on jeans in the morning instead of going straight to shorts. Then by noon it’s hot and half the city is planning a trip to the park as soon as work or school gets out. Clear blue sky and sunshine kept us both in town.

Man, I love my kid. We were hungry and she suggested that we pick a new part of town and a new restaurant. She continued with the theme and decided to pick only food and drink she had never had before. (and this coming from the world’s pickiest eater) We wandered into the NW – a trendy, yuppie part of Portland that my partner usually avoids and that I have never driven into all by myself (don’t forget: I’m a country girl and driving in cities scares the pants off me).

We had delicious food at Pastini (pasta is a sure-fire winner for my kid), wandered through a card/incense/spiritual growth/healing/meditation/candle shop and I picked up several good cards for friends expecting birthdays, anniversaries, and babies. (You know, that helps me realize how insignificant my own life is: when people are so close to me, and yet having completely full lives without me… heh heh. I don’t mean insignificant in a demeaning way, but in a humble way.)

She then wanted me to find the closest park on our becoming-well-worn city map of Portland, and we went to one we’ve been to before: Wallace Park. She played while I filled out some of my cards, and then as the sun went down we began to get chilly.

As we headed out of the park, we saw another thing we’ve seen before: dozens of people heading up the hill with coolers and blankets. Some kind of evening ritual. This time, curiosity got the better of me, and I stopped a couple and asked what’s going on.

They are going to watch the Vaux’s Swifts. Apparently, in September Portland has the largest known roost of migrating swifts in North America. They roost in this giant industrial chimney. Unfortunately, we were already cold and could not stay to watch it ourselves. We have to rely on the photos and stories of others. But it’s definitely on my to-do list now to try and spot them before they migrate away. Of course, last evening was brilliant, but now the local forecast calls for rain. 😦

Please see drnachomama’s photo of the swifts that I used from his flickr page.

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