When Rich and I need some peace and quiet to remember what we’re all about we try to get out to Wit’s End. This is the little cottage on Cedar Lake, about 45 minutes from home. It takes us away from the demands and stress of work and traffic and kids, answering machines and stacks of mail. Wit’s End was mine before it was ours and I still have a few mixed feelings about sharing the place- like a child with a favorite toy, torn between keeping it for herself and sharing with her best friend.
We came out last night and here’s something disturbing that happened. The sun was brilliant, especially on the remaining snow and broken ice of the lake. You know from previous posts that the mute swans who live on the lake are favorites of mine. Each year there are two pair- one at the north end in the marsh grass and one at the south. But the lake is small and the males are aggressive about their space so sometimes there’s some jostling that goes on before things settle into the the lascivious rituals of Spring.
This year I have been watching the original pair plus one of their youngsters, throughout the winter. When we arrived yesterday, it was clear the youngster had found a mate. Throughout the afternoon there was low flying back and forth- maybe within a couple feet of the surface. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to capture a picture for you because they are quite majestic and large, but the glare and movement were too much for my skills. At some point we actually heard loud flapping and just as we looked there was a midair collision. The father and son crashed together, wrestled briefly and then the youngster fell to the ice as the father flew off. Here are two out of focus pictures of the unhappy result.
The young swan limped slowly across the ice, dragging one leg and one wing. It was almost too painful and sad to see but I got out the scope and watched. He hobbled along until he hit the edge of the ice and then he slipped into the water and moved nearer his mate. As the sun went down he was still and quiet in the water and I was worried he wouldn’t make it through the night. Because the lake is half frozen and half thawed and the boats remain covered it was pointless to think about a rescue of sorts. And pretty much against the course of nature, for that matter.
I have a confession. I’ve been wandering. Beyond the ‘hood. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve been by your place but not always stopped to say hello- and I’m sorry. But it started with Florida Cracker– I had good reason, given the St. Pete.bungalow, to be curious about Florida stuff. And then it spread- to Pablo and Wayne and Rurality…and discussions about trees and rocks and scat and now, watersheds. I love a good watershed post. Watersheds are the source of nearly everything. People don’t always know a lot about the watershed they live in. Do you have stoneflies in yours? Stay tuned…
(postscript: this morning when we woke up the lake had mostly closed back up with ice. The young pair of swans was sitting, side-by-side, tucked into balls of white on the ice. They looked very cold but definitely alive. We shall see.)