Nature knows things at which we bipeds with our computers and big brains can only guess (but now that we have the i-Pad, the playing field should soon level, right?). A couple of weeks ago, March 19, the Feast of Saint Joseph, as they always do, the swallows came back to Capistrano. From everything I've ever read, they've been doing this for quite a bit longer than it took us hairless apes to even notice.
I refuse to buy in on 'no one knows why or how they know...' because I sincerely believe someone does and chooses to NOT tell the rest of us. It was very easy for me to remember the date of their return since it coincided with the birthdays of two of my favorite people on the planet, colleagues, now long passed, who had worked together for many years. I could, and should, have learned a lot more from them if I had listened harder to what they weren't saying.
I was thinking of them last night watching the bees who show up every spring to live under the wooden banisters of our front porch. I'm not sure if a bumble-bee is a real type of bee, or just a made up name but that's the way they look. They're black, with what look like a yellow pullover on and they hover about eight to ten inches off the steps when you come out on the porch and dart away, right after they zoom in, directly at you (as if scanning their sector).
I'm not an entomologist, but I find it interesting they seem to drill or eat through the underside of the railing, leaving little piles of sawdust as they go and live, I suppose, snug in the holes they create. At the end of the season, they disappear as suddenly as they arrived, and Sigrid, my wife, goes out with wood patching goop and fills in their holes which then dries and hardens and in the next spring the cycle begins again.
We have no idea what the bees are doing, aside from playing what looks like chicken with one another on the porch during most of the daylight hours. Sometimes, someone going up or down the three stairs from the porch to the sidewalk will attract their interest and they'll hover practically in the person's face, undaunted by waving hands (even if they get hit) until curiosity sated, they go back to Ollie, Ollie Oxen Free or whatever they're playing.
I'm not sure I'm not just a little jealous since they don't spend anywhere near as much of their time pondering me as I do them. They seem to be untroubled by questions such as Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones. Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.