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Column: My home is made safer by swallows

I recently moved into an apartment off of Highway 78, about halfway between Perham and Ottertail, after having lived in St. Paul’s ‘Frogtown’ neighborhood for the past few years.

When I lived in St. Paul, a local newspaper published a map of the city, coloring areas with higher crime rates red.  The darker the red, the more crime there was in a given part of the map.

The corner I lived on was a luxurious, deep red.

I never felt personally threatened, but I knew better than to leave my car unlocked or see what one of the nice, young men on the corner was up to at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.

This is why I owe a debt of gratitude to the army of swallows who have selected the bushes around my new home to be their nest.

I know that, without their constant vigilance and tendency to attack anyone who gets out of their car in the parking lot, I could easily be harmed by a passing neighbor or some kind of deer.

This is why I don’t complain when they get their wires crossed and swoop down on me from behind every time I’m outside – they’re just doing their job and sometimes it’s hard to know who’s who in the heat of battle.

“Joseph! Why don’t you remove the nest?” simpletons routinely ask me.

“Because we have learned to work symbiotically!” I exclaim, while never breaking eye contact or letting my lip quiver.

I have come to accept the swallows as friends; comrades, even. They guard my home, and I, in turn, give them a reason to practice their attack patterns and menacing chirps.

The price I pay for security is measured in the scratches I am slowly accumulating on the back of my head and the bird poo that is slowly accumulating on the hood of my car.

Without these swallows, I would almost certainly be the victim of a home invasion, and may even be able to carry my groceries in from the car without running.

I owe them everything.