Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Swallows of Amboise

Swallows stream thru the alleys during the days in Amboise. You can hear them coming several blocks away, their high-pitched cries getting louder as they approach.

They fly in groups of two dozen or so, careening down the streets and then looping up into the air to swoop around a corner and then off in some other direction, their cries diminishing with their distance.

And when they approach the chateau on the hill, the groups of them join together at the castle walls and cry their squeals and climb the updrafts, swirling upwards in circles until they reach the ramparts and then high into the sky, where they bank and dive back down to the rooftops of the city, splitting off into their groups again, dashing in different directions down the streets and alleys, starting the chase all over again.

Trip to France - Day 10

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Bird Dog

We walked along the sidewalk at the top of the dike between Amboise and the Loire. The sun was getting low in the sky. There were other people walking and sitting on the benches. The water was flowing slowly and shining in the sun.

From the top of the dike, we could see a man and his dog walking along the river near the weeds that grew tall at the water's edge. He was throwing something and the dog was fetching, running after it, bounding thru the weeds, and bringing it back to the man.

Then on one toss, the dog ran only half-way into the weeds and stopped. He remained absolutely motionless for a moment and then, crouched down low to the ground, he began to move slowly forward. First one paw, then another. Inch by inch. Step by step. Until a bird flew up from its hiding place.

The dog leapt after the startled bird and grabbed it in mid-flight. With the wings hanging limp from its jaw, the dog returned in triumph and delight to the man who was absolutely horrified.

He tried to get the dog to drop the bird. But it wouldn't. He looked nervously around and saw us stading there. I think we were chuckling. But he was not.

He tried again to get the dog to drop the bird, this time speaking loudly and tapping the dog's nose. But it didn't let go. The man bent over and tried to coerce the dog's jaw open -- to no avail. He spoke more sternly -- to no avail. He picked up the stick he had been throwing and tossed it -- to no avail. The bird still hung limp from the dog's jaw.

The poor man was mortified beyond belief, and we could not bear to stand there watching him try to undo what could not be undone. We turned and continued walking, yet we could not resist a glance or two back. Somehow, the man got the bird out of the dog's mouth, but we did not see how, and I guess we shall never know.

Trip to France - Day 10

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