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Swany River


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Even before I got out of bed this morning, I could see that it was gonna be a nice day. The sun was chasing away some ground fog and would soon go to work on a light frost and thin ice on the fish pond. Good time for a walk upriver. Not a big river, just the right size. One that you can't throw a stone across but can recognize someone you know on the other side. We do this walk regularly, but lately there's been more rain than you'd care to deal with, so we were ready.


We're at about the same latitude as NYC so this time of year the sun is fairly low. But the light was soft and yellow and the sky was crystal clear and blue-blue, just like LA :). The walk isn't a forced march, takes about an hour round-trip to the locks, rarely used anymore, and is mostly through woods with a sprinkling of small plots where the locals have planted their veggies and a few sunflowers for the birds' autumn snacks.


As we were strolling along, I heard a slow, deep 'fwop, fwop, fwop' sound coming from behind us. I knew that sound but when I turned around briefly I couldn't see the source. A few seconds later, the same sound. We turned around and looked up, just as four beautiful white swans were cruising east, upriver, about 100 feet overhead in single file. Such a regal bird. In a few seconds, they were out of our sight. There had been about 20 of them further upriver a few weeks ago, the most I'd ever seen in one spot at the same time, but I hadn't seen them recently. Maybe this was the last flight out.


We continued our walk and within 30 seconds, 'fwop, fwop, fwop'. We looked up to see not four but six swans flying west, DOWNRIVER, at about the same altitude as the four. Now that was odd. We mused about what was going on: four met two, heard there had been a route change, made a U; totally different flight with another agenda...we'd never know. But they surely knew exactly what they were doing. They will migrate as far as North Africa, some taking the scenic route to the eastern Med and then back west into Africa, or some will go directly across the Med, shorter but more dangerous. Bad weather can wear them out before they reach landfall.


We continued to walk and in another minute or two, 'fwop, fwop, fwop' from the west. Turned to see six swans, same altitude, but this time they were crossing the river on a southeasterly heading. Maybe I'd have to re-think my certainly about their built-in GPS. Or, not likely, but it could have been three different flights. Or, as I just noticed out the window, there's a full moon so maybe...


After a serene and beautiful day, I sort of hesitate to turn on the TV news. Most of it is bad or worse, a lot of it is filler because there's too much air time dedicated to the 'news', which often isn't, just re-packaged from yesterday or last week. I'm pretty sure that swans don't watch the news, they just listen to classical music radio.


I hope they take the safe route south so they'll be back in the spring.

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