All my life, the swallows returning every March 19th to San Juan Capistrano, California, has been a symbol of the strength of nature and of how some things never change. Except they do and, what's more, maybe it never happened anyway, or, even worse, we may be responsible when things do change.
For over a century, St. Joseph's Day annually saw the return of the swallows to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, where they would rebuild their nests in the ornate structures. They were preceded each year by the slightly earlier return of the "scout swallows." There is a local ordinance against destroying swallow nests, which are made from mud.
Where the swallows returned from was long a mystery; now it is known that they journeyed 15,000 miles from Goya, Corrientes, Argentina. They took thirty days to make the trip, flying from dawn to sunset, and did not eat or drink during that time.
But, according to a Los Angeles Times story, the swallows did not return in 2009; in ...