I went out to Sachem Pond on the first warm day I can remember. There was a new stretch of open water. And the swans were doing something I'd never seen. They were sailing. They let the wind fill their feathers and push them along. They put their beaks down. I'm not sure if they were filtering water, or if it was part of the game. They must have been using their feet as well because there was a sort of bobbing motion, bow to stern.
I've watched the swans all winter and fretted over their situation. It's been so cold, and I've wondered how they were managing. It looked like they were containing themselves, holding on. But this day was different. They'd sail for a while and it seemed like they were doing it just for fun, and suddenly, they'd fight and scatter everywhere, and then they'd go back to sailing again.
I went back two days later. It was windy and much colder. The swans flew to the lee of the sand dunes by the North Light, trading the large open water by the parking lot for the chance to be out of the wind. They stayed and I stayed also. They faced the wind and rested. Then, they began their beautiful mating dance.
And every so often they poked a neighbor.
When I'm out with the birds, I try to be patient. I copy them as they stay and stay, because I realize that being in nature in their way must create a state of mind. I stay with it sometimes, and sometimes I fidget and hum and talk to myself, because they are ready to wait forever, because they out wait me every time.
I like to do this. It gives me a sense of who I am. I don't have to think. It's not a concept. My skin knows. And then I run home to make myself warm. I'm glad I can do that, and I never forget that they can't. But I don't want to be so secure with my layers of safety and comfort that I forget that I'm also a creature on the earth.
The sun came out and I felt it warm on my face and the swans immediately flew to the less protected, bigger water.
So it's been a good chance for pictures. I love this time of year, especially because of the birds, because of the new warmth and their relief and stirring and energy.
And soon, life will make its move. Soon, they'll be mating and life will weave its way through them into the particular pattern of new swans. The babies will ride on their backs in the room created by their feathers. I would love to go with them. That must be something.