It’s a miracle they say. Every year on March 19th these little birds return to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in Orange County in California. They make an amazing flight from Argentina just like clockwork every year arriving on March 19. And then…..right on schedule on October 23 they circle the mission a time or two and head right on back to Argentina again. People from all over the world make their way to the old Mission to see the swallows make their arrival.
I’ve had a little bit of experience with those swallows myself. None of it has been very pleasant on my end. And for the life of me I can’t see why making a big deal of them returning to the Mission in California is anything to celebrate about. My first experience with these little feathered friends (trying to be nice!) was when we were living on the ranch in Texas. They’d start showing up a few at at time, then a dozen or two….and before you know it there were a few hundred of them. They’d gather mud and start to build their nests around the eve of our house. Like I said, “Nothing to celebrate about”.
I’d knock their nests down with a broom handle and a few times I’d spray the water hose on the nests to try to get rid of them. But they are persistent little varmints. They’d be back the next day…and apparently bring some of their friends with them. The harder I tried to get rid of them, the more of them that showed up! It was kinda like Bill Murray on Caddyshack trying to get rid of those gophers!
But my worst experience came years later. We started Trinity Fellowship in people’s homes to begin with, then in a little building right south of downtown When we got up to about 25 people we moved onto the property where we’ve been ever since. Our original church building there was originally the country club. It was an older building probably built in the 50’s. One spring those %*#@ swallows we were talking about started showing up and building their nests under the eve. And, that’s not the worst of it; they’d start their obnoxious, …..and very loud, chattering right in the middle of our church service! It was extremely distracting……for everyone. I tolerated that for a couple of weeks and decided I was going to do something about it!
I didn’t have a ladder to reach the nests from the outside but I could, with the help of a straightened out clothes hanger and a chair to stand on, poke through from the inside and mess up their little nests. (I may,….or may not, have cussed a little bit during this process!) When I poked that clothes hanger through to their nests I could tell they were really disturbed about it. I was doing some good! I totally destroyed a couple of the nests. But before I could step down from the chair I was literally itching all over. Now, I don’t know what you know about mites……but they’re not to be messed with! This was my first (and hopefully my last!) experience with ’em! They’re so tiny you can hardly see them; lots smaller than a flea! The itching was terrible; not kiddin’! I headed straight home, took a shower. Still itching! Took another shower, not much let-up!
That all happened on Saturday evening. I was up at daylight on Sunday morning, took a jug of insect spray back out there and hosed down the whole area…..a few times. I thought that should do it. About thirty minutes into the church service that morning I started noticing that everyone sitting on the south side of the isle was scratching! Pretty soon they were all scratching, ……and pretty vigorously too! Yep, you guessed it, the mites were in attack mode!
I don’t remember what I preached about that Sunday….but I do remember I cut it really, really short! We kept that little secret to ourselves for years. So, if you were there and remember scratching like crazy…..it was the mites……from the swallows!
So, anytime I hear anything about those swallows returning to Capistrano….I think, “Good riddance”! They can’t return to Capistrano soon enough for me!
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