Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saving Swans

Okay, so...I am reasonably sure people will think I'm making up this story, but I swear on a stack of Anne of Green Gables-es that it's 100% true.

I posted this morning that I had taken a walk to see the baby swans at Town Brook, and that I had planned to take Abby back with me this afternoon to see them. Sure enough, after Amelia was safely settled at her playdate, Abby and I headed over to the pond above Town Brook. We found fluffy yellow goose babies, and tiny brown duck babies, but we couldn't find the swan babies or their mother...only the swan father, pacing up and down the pond (swim-pacing?) in a very agitated way. It's rare to see the father swan without his mate, and I couldn't understand where the rest of them could possibly be hiding. Soon, we saw a fellow from the animal control office walking along the end of the pond, asking if we had seen the mother and babies. He said, "That's what I thought. I believe they got sucked down the hole and into the waterfall. Happened three years ago, and they all died. Not good..." Now, first of all, I would have preferred that he did not say that to my sensitive seven-year-old in our happy little springtime-on-the-farm moment, but since I had just seen eight little swans that very morning, I was concerned as well. Abby and I headed toward the lower brook to see what we could see, and he headed toward his truck. A bit further down the brook, I spotted the mother swan with several of her babies, (though I couldn't tell how many) and so we ran back up to get the Animal Guy.

He followed us down where we counted five babies, and saw some injuries on the back of the mother. There were several other people watching the swan with her babies - a young man, and two grandparents with a baby, and two tourists with a very fancy camera. The Animal Guy decided that he would have to climb in the brook, gather up the babies, get them back to the pond, and then come back to the mother. "Can I help you?" I asked, not expecting him to say, "You hold all the babies and I'll grab the mother." Ooookey-dokey. So he took off his sweatshirt, handed it to me, and told me to wrap all the babies in it. He climbed into the brook and handed me up one of the babies, which I quickly wrapped up. The mother swan moved over to the other side of the brook with her remaining four babies. He waded over, and I crossed the bridge nearby to catch the remaining babies. He scooped them up pretty quickly, the mother swan hissing and honking all the while, and I quickly wrapped them up in my arms. They snuggled right up against my neck, and the moment was absolutely not lost on me that I was HOLDING AN ARMFUL OF BABY SWANS. Who does that???

Now, the mother swan was losing it, and made off to chase me and likely bite my face off, but the officer grabbed her up from behind, and we all - the grandparents, the handsome young man, and the non-English speaking tourists, and my very amazed little daughter - trudged up the brook, across the street and toward the pond where the father swan was waiting. Abby pet the baby swans on the head, and we were joined by more on-lookers (notably the father of one of my former middle school drama students - yeah...small town.) The officer instructed me to place the babies gently beside the pond next to the father, and then he would release the mother. I spilled those sweet, fuzzy grey babies into the grass, and watched them tottle off into the pond. The mother was released and the whole little family sailed away into the springtime afternoon.

We stayed to watch them for a bit longer, and went back to see the geese and ducks, and soon the officer returned with one more grey baby swan, looking a bit worse for the wear. He released it back into the pond, where the whole swan family came back to receive it, check it out, and welcome it back into the fold.

Then, Abby and I purelled like crazy and got ice cream.

Tomorrow morning on my walk, I'll look for them, hoping that the last two might have been found and returned. An ordinary walk turned into a kind of magical springtime moment, and I was again grateful for the chance to have time with my daughter, and the space to let the moments in.

(Oh, and P.S...the Young Man was taking pictures on his cell phone. I asked him if he'd send one to me - knowing that this was kind of an unbelievable story, and hoping for photographic proof. He complimented me and asked if I had a twin sister whose number I could give him instead. Nothing like a compliment to add an extra layer of sparkle to an already sparkly day.)


  1. Wow Kelly that is quite a story! Something you and Abby will remember forever I'm sure. Love the twin sister line. That must have felt good :)


  2. Christopher SaadMay 13, 2009 at 8:35 AM

    you realize this stuff only happens to you, right? i bet Abby's walk was more exciting tha Amelia's play date...