It’s that time of year again. The swallows are migrating from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano. They’ll be here next week, arriving on March 19, which is St. Joseph’s Day. The city of San Juan Capistrano celebrates with Fiesta de las Golondrinas, the Festival of the Swallows. We always attend, though these days, it’s hard to find the swallows. They don’t really come to the mission anymore because there isn’t the food and peace and quiet there used to be when Junipero Serra was there. You can find the swallows nearby in the canals and under the bridges, their little mud nests clinging to the cement. They come back every year, no matter what. Their return reminds me of a promise that can never be broken.
Leon Rene was so inspired by their migration that he wrote a folk song about the swallows. Here's the first stanza:
When the swallows come back to Capistrano
That's the day you promised to come back to me
When you whispered, "Farewell," in Capistrano
'twas the day the swallows flew out to sea
These little birds are a bit of a wonder to us, like a tradition, or a very special surprise, something unexpected and beautiful, something sort of phenomenal actually.