In the midst of a snowy day, a sudden delight--

    Tundra swans



3:45 PM Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007, Boalsburg, PA  

3:45 PM Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007, Boalsburg, PA  




    Their sound traveled well ahead of them through the snow-filled air -- a noisy high-pitched honking, and ponderous flapping.   Swans, I thought, as I finished brushing the white fluff from my front porch.  I smiled at the memory of a friend's description of this organized traffic jam of birds -- "They sound like geese in tight shorts", he had said.



  Four inches of new powder, falling all day long, had turned the earth, houses, trees, air and sky a uniform white.  Snow, the great leveler, was smoothing the rough edges of the world.   I could not see Tussey Mountain nor Mount Nittany, as I usually can.  Snow limited my vision to just a small, tidy part of my neighborhood.


    Although I did not believe the swans could possibly be visible, I looked around hopefully anyway.  As the sound grew louder, I realized the swans were headed straight towards me.  Then they appeared, like a living bas-relief sculpture, long-necked, great white birds, outlined against a white sky.  Cruising low, in a loose, jostling V- formation the swans flew directly over my house. 


    "Look", I shouted.  "Swans.  Tundra swans.  A whole bunch of them."   I was too enthralled to count, but I guess there were about 40 birds, all seeming larger-than-life.   Perhaps temporarily disoriented in the snow, they were headed east, but then turned left at the neighbor's house and headed north.   A moment later I heard them again to the west and south.  I think they circled Boalsburg, calling for stragglers:  "Heep! Heep!  Calling all swans. Last chance. Flight leaving for parts south.  Heep! Heep!'  Then the noise diminished quickly on an eastward course towards Colyer Lake.


  I put away my snow shovel with a warm feeling of satisfaction.  The snow had been feather-light, and provided me with honest work for a short time, and an excuse to be outdoors in a weird wonderful world.  How lucky I was to witness the Flight of the White Swans! 


 Happy Winter Everybody! 


Jean Aron
Boalsburg, PA

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