Free Wheelin’

I get so much pleasure from watching the swallows fly. They are the tiny Top Gun pilots of the bird world, carrying out airshow manouevres all over the place.

They loop, they whirl, they spin.

They glide low down, up high.

They perform perfect chandelles with an enviable lack of effort.

Once I even saw a group of them in flight formation carry out an Immelman turn.

(An Immelman turn is where a plane rolls at the apex, moves one hundred degrees to the right then pulls away.)

What must it be like?

They are at once tethered and free from the clouds.

They see the land drift and the sun flit through pockets of wind.

They live completely in the moment.

Now. Right now. The free wheelin’, heart soarin’ joy of the moment.

That’s all that matters.

Being deep in the glory of the world. Of the sky.

How is it that such tiny creatures have so much wisdom to impart?

22 thoughts on “Free Wheelin’

  1. Hi Selma,
    Again a lovely photo, was it a windy day? The swallows look like they have puffed themselves up against the wind.
    I agree with Gabrielle a lovely poem, those beautiful thoughts from just the photo.


  2. I love them too. They look like they’re having so much fun flitting around. I’m always surprised if one of them perches and remains still; they just contain too much energy. We know these little ones as “martins”.


  3. The birds I watch in formation are geese ,,, they fascinate me the way they keep perfect formation, and can even change leader in flight seamlessly … which is more than us humans can.

    I also recall seeing griffon vultures in Spain, flying in what looked spookily like the USA’s ‘missing man’ formation.


    It must be your good, steadying influence that is bringing out the poet in me. But really, you are far too kind. I do like planes. I used to make model planes as a kid which was interesting as I am not at all crafty. I like how things work. I can take apart clocks and put them back together again – weird stuff like that. I am fascinated by flight and from an aerodynamic point of view what a plane can do in the air. In some ways they almost bend the laws of physics. It fascinates me no end.

    Hi MAGS:
    It was a windy day. Very well spotted. Come to think of it, it has been windy around here a lot. I think August is meant to be a bit windier in Sydney. Thanks for your lovely feedback.

    Hi DAOINE:
    It’s funny, when I lived in the UK we called them martins too. They are from the same family but according to my very expert Sydney birding friend they are Welcome Swallows. You can tell by the red breasts. Either way, they are adorable. And they cheep when they fly. How jolly is that?

    Geese are so amazing. You don’t see that many in flight around here but I have seen some overseas and it blew my mind. I have seen them change leaders too. I don’t know how they know to do it, but they do. It is quite incredible.

    I haven’t seen any vultures in the wild but I would love to. I must add it to my ever-growing wish list!


  5. I often watch birds coast in the sky – as a hawk does when it is hunting, and often wish I could do that. I just love the symbolism of birds – trancending, reaching, escaping… I’m going to enjoy thinking about this post today – especially as I get out for my lunchtime walk.


  6. I love watching little sparrows flying around from my window… They are my favorite birds, they are tiny yet they never migrate, they stay at “home” whether it’s summer or winter…
    “They live completely in the moment.
    Now. Right now. The free wheelin’, heart soarin’ joy of the moment.
    That’s all that matters.”
    This is what I love so much about animals… I don’t know how they do it, I just wish I can do it too!
    Thank you for this amazing post Selma, it lifted my spirit! 🙂


  7. I’ve always been amazed at the precision flying of a group of birds…the whole team banking and turning on a dime in perfect synchronization….how do they do it? Telepathy?

    P.S. Love that you’re my #1 fridge poetry fan!


    That is cute about the Biggles books. I just liked the idea of flying. We really are two peas in a pod in many ways. LOVE it!

    In some ways it was. Most enjoyable. I have so much fun watching the birds!

    The symbolism is magical. You can’t beat watching a hawk or eagle in flight. They really are breathtaking birds. In my previous life I think I may have been a falconer. I went falconing once and just knew exactly what to do. It was very strange. I certainly felt like I had done it before. I had never believed in anything to do with people living on this earth before until that point. It still freaks me out to think about it.

    Hi LAURI:
    And goggles. Goggles can be a fashion ‘DO’ if worn correctly. 😆

    Hi LUA:
    I love sparrows too. We don’t see too many of them around here because we have these Australian native birds called Noisy Miners who scare them off. They are small birds themselves but are very bossy. Shame because I love watching the sparrows. They are so cute!

    I think it must be a kind of telepathy. It is quite amazing. I have that David Attenborough series ‘Life Of Birds’ on DVD and he touches on that. He also mentions that there are very subtle head and wing movements that the leader bird employs and the rest of the flock follow. It is quite incredible.

    I am your bonafide, enthusiastic, can’t wait for more Number One Fridge Poetry fan. It just really appeals to me!


  9. Swallows visit Tiziana and perch along the rail, quite tame, so I talk to them. What I say is, “Pleaase point your lovely little bums outward and don’t shit on my deck!”


  10. Had another lok at the photo and have changed my mind. I think they are fairy martins. from google. “The Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel) is a member of the swallow family of passerine birds which breeds in Australia”. There were pics that showed ‘your’ birds exactly. Anyway, the dear little buggers try to nest in my rigging so I try to stop them because if I hoist a sail the eggs or chicks fall out and I feel sad! 😦


  11. One of the few birds we see here in BC (at least in our area) is Barn Swallows. They sit outside on the power lines and seem to be chatting to each other before they start their swoops up and down, up and down. These guys look like they are ready to soar!!! 😉

    Hugs Sel, G


  12. My daughter loves to watch birds. I never really noticed them before she started pointing them out. Now I see them EVERYWHERE.

    Great pic.


  13. I so agree!! I remind myself, on the occasions that that ominous self-pity looms near, of all the little birds who wake up every morning having no idea where their next meal will be found. They trust, they live in the now. True wisdom indeed. …so cute too… 🙂


  14. I love watching birds on wires, especially when they huddle together on a cool night. I also love how you’ve compared them to pilots on manouvers. Never thought of that, thanks. Was a lovely start to the day..:)


  15. Hi STAFFORD:
    Yeah. I’m not sure if they’re swallows or martins now. They are very small. I can’t believe they go in your rigging – cheeky wee guys. It’s obviously nice and cosy in there for them. I’d feel sad too.

    They do gather for a chirp before they fly. It is really cute to watch. I love them!

    Hi LIBBY:
    I started watching birds the same way. My son adored them from a baby. And they seemed to follow him around. He revived my interest in them!

    Hi STEPH:
    They just make me feel better every single time. They really lift my spirits. I do love all the birds around here!

    Hi DENISE:
    I’m so glad you liked it. I like seeing them huddle too. They are cuties!


  16. Fun post Selma. I enjoy watching the birds fly and wonder what it must be like. We just returned from the beach and watching pelicans soar in formation–they are always put on a good show.


  17. Hi SLAMDUNK:
    Pelicans are a wonder. For such large birds they are very elegant in flight. We see quite a few of them around here too. They definitely know all about showmanship.

    Hi MELEAH:
    Oh me too. I would be an eagle. They are such majestic birds!


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