Skip to main content
mayfly

Mayflies and Swallows

Yesterday I had six meetings. Not all of them were the stuffy sit-around-the boardroom type of meeting, in fact one of them was a site meeting, actually more of a conversation, out at a site.

"Mayfly" by me'nthedogs on Flickr

I was late, owing to the previous meeting’s overrun, but as I drove up to the detention pond in the light drizzle, my appointment was already down by the water staring at the surface. I shrugged my goretex on, hopped down the rocky pathway and we talked.

Some meetings start off with a flourish, the agenda was emailed three weeks ago, the chair of the meeting is reliving the glory days of Benito Mussolini with regards to the schedule, and everyone is expected to say something important. Such a very adult way to conduct a meeting.

This meeting was more peaceful – we talked about fishing, we talked about the pond, we stood and enjoyed the rain and watched the swallows darting over the water’s surface, looping around like a series of wild rollercoaster rides. Interested in what they were catching, the fishermen in us peered through the camouflage of the falling rain to see the insect activity on the surface of the pond. On closer inspection, it appeared that we were witnessing a mayfly hatch, a pale blue dun. As we watched one of these elegant insects emerge from the water, spread it’s wings and prepared to fly away to find a mate, a swallow arced down from my right and literally plucking it out of the water with it’s beak.

The meeting continued after this nature moment, but it felt as though all the business in the world could take a back stage while nature took it’s course in a performance reserved for the two of us standing, slightly wetter now, by a pond in the rain.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.