“One Swallow doesn’t make a summer”

          It was just before breakfast this morning             

– a familiar shape passed over the house,  the first swallow of the summer.

But as “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, we had to wait till a little later to be sure that summer is here; but there it was as we set off – a pair of swallows passed over the road. And then a little later, one perched on the wire at Surtainville. So there we have it – Summer is here.

Interesting that the French phrase appears to be “a swallow makes the spring”. Does this have the same sense as the English?  Not sure about that. But French guests arriving at the gite today noticed the link between our surname and our company name, and when we mentioned that we’d seen un hirondelle a  Surtainville aujourd’hui, responded ‘that’s good, but aren’t you here all the time?!’

So summer, or is it spring, is finally here. And with it all those early-summer chores in the garden – cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, weeding the borders, and on and on. But time also to look forward to those lazy days of summer holidays.

Enjoy the weather, and the onset of summer.

Bob and Marjory

3 responses to ““One Swallow doesn’t make a summer”

  1. The French say “une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps” which means “one swallow does not make the Spring”. It means that one should be careful about drawing hasty conclusions about one possibly isolated event. In 1936, the French elected a Jew, Leon Blum, for prime minister. And 5 years later, French Jews were being massively deported to concentration camps. This is one tragic illustration of the proverb. People have a natural tendency to project one good event into the future to crystalize their desires. The same is happening right now in the US with the election of Obama. It’s a giant progressive leap forward, but it shouldn’t be understood as the end of racial tensions in America… We should always be careful… Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps !

  2. PS: There is one phrase in French which says “une hirondelle a fait le printemps”, meaning “one swallow did make the Spring”. It is used when one event actually did turn out to be followed by similar ones (it’s an echo to the more common “une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps”). But there is no French proverb saying “one swallow makes the Spring”. Trust me on this, French is my native language.

  3. Thank you for explaining the proverb. I am working on my memoir and just finished writing about my mother. She used to repeat the phrase often: “One swallow doesn’t make a spring.” She didn’t know any French; it’s a bit of a mystery where she picked it up, but it was a favorite of hers 40 years ago.


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