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Swans in the Mist

I went to take the trash out with Kevin, and as we walked back down the long gravel drive, I happened to look up. It’s been very foggy these last few days, so it was one of those oddly bright dusks where the fog is brighter than the sky.

A V-formation of swans went overhead in total silence.

They were very low over the house, almost skimming the tree-line, their outlines just faintly blurred with fog. I could see the darkness of their bills. It was a perfect monochrome image—white birds on white fog with black bills and black scribbles of trees reaching up toward them. There were nine or ten of them, maybe more—it didn’t even occur to me to count them.

It was eerie how silent they were. Geese honk when they go by. These didn’t.

I, being the cool operator that I am, yelled “Shit! Dude! Uh! Thing!” and pointed wildly.

Kevin looked up and said “….whoa.

I scrambled inside and checked the internet. It turns out that North Carolina has the largest wintering population of tundra swans on the East Coast—75 thousand birds. These birds were a good bit farther west and south than usual—I’ve never seen one out here before (or in fact ever, they were lifers for me!)—but given the weird weather and the fact that we’re due a winter storm coming in very soon, I expect they were moving in response to incoming weather, probably heading to Jordan Lake. (All tundra swan reports in this county are on that particular lake, making it a safe bet.)

It was an extraordinary sight, and not one that I expected when I was pulling my coat on to help Kevin drag the trash down to the curb. So I guess you just never know, huh?

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.



I had no idea swans came that far south (except, you know, the ones brought there by people).

That must have been astounding.

I, being the cool operator that I am, yelled “Shit! Dude! Uh! Thing!” and pointed wildly.

This is the exact same reaction that I typically have to stuff like this. My family still makes fun of the first time I saw a Moorish Idol in the wild, standing on the reef, gesticulating madly, mostly gibbering.

I remember seeing a flock of pelicans flying down the Mississippi River once when I was on a riverboat ride. They were barely moving their wings, their flight looked completely effortless, and yet they were out of sight within moments...

So, are you now planning a trip to Jordan Lake?

I, being the cool operator that I am, yelled “Shit! Dude! Uh! Thing!” and pointed wildly.

Seems like a logical reaction to me. And about what I did the first time I saw wolves in Yellowstone, too.

I want you to paint that.
One of your serious or spooky paintings.

On another note, from "Set Phasers on Lol" today, I saw this and thought of Digger immediately, of course: https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/6947570944/h291BB675/

Makes perfect sense to me. Somebody, along the route home is having a formal party and insists she attend...

When we lived in Alaska, we were on a major flight path for Tundra swans. They do seem to fly silently normally. But one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life was getting to see a bunch of "families" of the Tundras all coming together. They made the most wonderful eerie sounds as they all swirled around each other. It was heart rendingly joyful and beautiful.

But it scared the ever lovin' crap out of the cat....

The way you described it I had a beautiful image in my mind. You are eloquent as always.

I, being the cool operator that I am, yelled “Shit! Dude! Uh! Thing!” and pointed wildly.

Never change, Ursula. XD