Peaceful pair
This morning I watched them flying around the perimeter of Flat Iron Lake, just like they have for many years while teaching their young ones to fly.  Just the sight of the swan pair this summer saddens me—they were empty nesters before they even got started this year.  My neighbor Pam says she saw four little ones in early spring and then they were gone.  How do parents spend their time when there are no more youngsters to nurture?  Pam is anticipating that very thing now that her son is a high school senior.  We speculate if waterfowl parents have emotions like our own.  Could they share our sadness over loss whether early in life or when our children grow up and fly the proverbial coup?  We’ll never know, but it is easy to transfer our own emotions on to them, especially when they fly around the lake over and over with no children following behind.

All summer I wanted to get a close up picture of the swans but they seldom hang around the dock and I never paddle out near them, and for good reason.  Ages ago, Fritz and I were canoeing in the spring along a lazy river.  It was my first canoe ride but with him pulling most of the weight things were going pretty well. Until we came too close to a swan’s nest.  We didn’t notice the male swam guarding the nesting area until it was too late.  He flew up and dove at Fritz whose arms were moving the paddles energetically.  In trying to protect himself against the bird’s powerful wings Fritz raised his arms, tipping the canoe along with the lunch and me.  I’m no swimmer but I flailed around—until I saw my grinning husband while standing nearby, only waist-deep!  So I stay on shore, not trusting the magnificent birds even though they look ever so peaceful bobbing around on the lake. 

Early one morning, I spotted them among the lily pads. I almost tiptoed up to the house to get the camera, knowing that this was my chance.  They were still languishing nearby when I returned—my presence didn’t seem to bother them at all.  But—I’m not the best photographer so I shot dozens with the hope that one would turn out.  I was totally blown away.  One looked like they posed just for me!

And then today as they were doing their fly around, I had the camera because I was trying to capture a shot of the native grasses in the early morning light.  One swan suddenly flew up over the trees and traveled overhead.  Perhaps he was trying to reassure me that life goes on even after inevitable transitions and losses.  Thanks, feathered friends, for being there for me.

Swan in flight