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By Chris Mittelstaedt

Wayne, PA, June 1981. It’s a hazy and humid gray-blue Saturday and the summer beetles  are whistle-clicking as I push the riding mower backwards out from the garage. I’m in grasscutting gear—white shorts with green piping, tube socks pulled up to my knees, a blue  Adidas T-shirt, mirrored sunglasses, and super-absorbent plush white-and-blue wristbands.

Halfway into my mowing the barn swallows start to gather. They’re suburban Philly barn  swallows, bred long before Valley Forge was a park and the Pennsylvanian fields of gold  summer straw were filled with office parks and houses instead of pheasant and fox.

They dive—two at first, then two more. Soon it’s an aria of slight, razor-winged birds rising and  falling in concert with my mowing. Even though I don’t speak their language, I know these  birds understand me. It’s a message. Something about a connection between what is natural  and what is built by human hands. I have a special power. I’m the Doctor Doolittle of suburban  Philadelphia—there’s no doubt that yo hablo barn swallow! It brings tears to my eyes.

My sister, watching from the window (and who later claimed I was yelling and ducking  hysterically while flapping my arms and controlling the lawn mower with my knees), makes  sure she’s there when I pull the mower into the garage. “I talked with the birds!” I tell her  excitedly. I add, in a whisper, “I have a gift.” “Chris,” she says matter-of-factly. “They eat  the bugs that you kick up when you cut the grass.”

Nature speaks to us in many languages depending on where you live. For example, right now  it is loquacious on the West Coast—chatting away with Ed McGee’s white-flesh nectarines  from Vernalis, CA, and Olson Family Farms’ Candy Red yellow peaches from Kingsburg, CA.

The east and central parts of the United States are well over being tongue-tied by spring  and are in chorus with a wide variety of stone fruits.  See what’s growing in your  region by visiting our mix pages at fruitguys.com/mix.

And remember — if no hablo barn  swallow, you can always try mime.

 

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