Swifts and Sweets

Last Friday evening started out inauspiciously–the Reed van I’d reserved wouldn’t start. After several minutes of sweaty confusion, I finally figured out the problem and we were cruising across the Ross Island bridge up my favorite twisting tree-lined hill street to Chapman Elementary School. This historic building has a huge, cylindrical chimney in which thousands (about 35,000 at the last official count) of migratory Vaux’s swifts roost each warm September night.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

Photo courtesy of Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

Click here for a video of the migrating Vaux’s swifts!

My dormies and I sat on a grassy slope above the soccer field watching the little kids play a free-for-all game of soccer while the birds circled the chimney in a complex flying pattern before funneling in to sleep. The entire process took about a half hour as the sun set, and a large hawk swooped in near the end, providing an exciting finale to our show. We hopped back into the van and drove a bit deeper into the city to Cool Moon ice cream. There, we all sampled their signature “kulfi” flavor: pistachio/cardamom/rosewater, an interpretation of the classic Indian frozen dessert served during Diwali.

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Dormies displaying their scoops… Yum!

Over half of us (including myself) got the yummy “horchata cookie” in cones. We arrived back at Reed while the night was just beginning, still impressed by the swifts and endless sweet combinations.

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