Random Thoughts

The swan

 ... a walk in Woods Hole

by John Averell

This little essay was written as an exercise at a recent Elderhostel week in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

As I walked from Swopes Center to the Lillie library a swan looked up at me from the icy pond ten feet below the sidewalk. It had that saucy, I-belong-here-and-you should-throw-me-some-food look that nature's panhandlers put on for tourists.

Actually I'm not used to seeing swans in salt water. It was alone with only a platoon of mallards swimming not too close by, competing for my empty-handed attention.


Swans are monogamous, I've been told. I suppose this one lost its mate. Hard to know what goes on in that bereft bird brain. Is it looking for another mate? Not much chance on Eel pond. Looking for love and appreciation? Woods Hole offers that -- lots of attention by students, scientists, and tourists.

I've always found swans to be beautiful to look at, but nasty if you try to cozy up. They are excitable, protective, easily annoyed, and very strong of beak and wing. I'm glad they are around anyway. There are enough ugly ducklings and too few swans.

April 2, 2004


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