I forced Asherel to walk with me to go look at the swans yesterday. I know. What a horrible mother, coercing beauty and wonder in God's creation on her child.
"I've seen swans before," she grumbled.
"Not wild swans," I said, "And not this far south. I am not sure I have ever even seen a wild swan."
"Well I have!" she snapped.
"Where?" I challenged.
"On the internet! Have you never heard of google images?" she said, rolling her eyes.
"Please tell me you are kidding. Please tell me you are not equating a photograph on the computer with coming to see in real life a wild swan, this beautiful creation of God. Please tell me you are kidding or I have failed you as a mother."
"OK, I'm excited about the swan. I'm jsut not excited about walking here to see it.I would have been excited to drive to see it."
(It is a 10 minute walk.)
"Please tell me you are kidding. Please tell me you are not wanting your muscles to dissolve into a blob of useless flesh, the wonderful muscles God gave you to use to walk and not grow weary...to walk to see a wild swan. Please tell me you are kidding or I have failed on two counts."
She did not tell me she was kidding on that one.
We were stopped on our walk to the swans by two young girls on bicycles.
"Can you tell us where Shadow Lake is?" they asked.
I gave them directions and said, "Did you know there are swans there?"
"Yes!" they exclaimed, "That's why we are going there. We want to see them."
I looked pointedly at my daughter, the one I raised to love all creatures great and small, and to love the wonder of moving muscles God gave her that are strong and healthy.
When we arrived at the lake, the little girls were sitting on the shore, just watching the swans. The swans saw us and began to glide towards us.
"Aren't they beautiful!" I cried.
The girls nodded. Asherel was mute, like the swan.
"The one that is not quite white must be young," I said,"They turn all white when they are adults."
"I didn't know that," said the little girl politely.
"Yes. And those are Mute swans. The bigger one is a male. If they are still here in February, they will probably build a nest. They do that in late spring."
"Wow," said the little girl.
I didn't tell her about how swans mate for life, and are devoted parents. They carry the baby cygnets on their backs at times. The cygnets remain with the parents for as long as two years, though usually just one. That is still the longest any bird remains with its parents. A swan after my own heart!
They show affection by kissing bills, and the shape made by the two arched necks forms a heart.
Once a year they molt and for 6 weeks are unable to fly. Their feathers are hollow, like all birds, and they have a sac of waterproofing oil by their tail. So they spend hours preening to spread the oil over their feathers.Their longer neck allows them to retrieve water plants deeper than the other waterfowl, and thus contrary to the supposed contest between them and other waterfowl for food, they usually root for food in deeper water. Indeed, by pulling up plants shorter necked species can't reach, they often provide more not less food for competing species. I noticed they did not challenge the geese today. The geese floated placidly near them, and all the birds seemed content.
They glided to within a few feet of shore.
"They probably want food. But don't give them any," I warned the little girls. "If they get handouts they can become aggressive, demanding more."
The sweet girls nodded again, and we all stood another quiet moment watching the swans.
"Shall we go?" asked Asherel.
As we walked off, she told me, "You are becoming a swan nerd, Mom."
I sighed. I craned my neck to watch the swans til I could see them no more.
2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Proverbs 8:30-3230 Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.