Swan Song

Driving to work I saw these Trumpeter Swans on Lake Calhoun. So beautiful. I have a deep connection with Trumpeter Swans and have had many encounters with them, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them on a Minneapolis lake.
I stopped to linger with them for awhile. And began chanting “OM” to them, as I had done years ago when I had my first interaction with them. On that occasion , after long minutes of just watching, when began I chanting to them, a pair swam toward each other and began their courtship display of facing each other and lowering the heads and trumpeting to each other as they raised their heads in unison. Their duet was spellbinding. They repeated this time after time, with other swans joining in the display. It was such a enthralling experience.
This morning, after I gave a few intonations of “OM”, a young woman walked up from behind me to see them too. Catching each other’s eyes, she said, “Don’t stop, I won’t think it’s weird if you chant Om!”   Always nice when one encounters a kindred spirit! After exchanging hellos (her name was Shannon) and oohing and aahing about the swans, I then asked her if she’d chant with me. And so we did, it was lovely, once again eliciting a response from the swans. There was no pairing up, but one could see that they were clearly stirred and several of them randomly trumpeted to the skies as we intoned. Chanting with the Swans – so magical.
About an hour later I drove by again, and they all had their heads tucked under their wings, sleeping as still and silent as floating snow drifts.

Trumpeter Swans were reintroduced to Minnesota beginning in 1978. Since that year the population has gone from zero to about 2,400. A truly amazing success. They nest in shallow lakes and marches quite removed from each other during the summers. But in the winters they flock together. Interestingly, they do not migrate south for the winters, but remain here in what open bodies of water they can find. Trumpeters are the heaviest bird in North America, the largest living waterfowl in the world, and can have wingspans of 8 feet, with one male found to have a wingspan of 10 feet.

The adults are pure white and look utterly angelic when buffeting the air with their wings to slow themselves to land. Add to this their trumpeting, and they seem the very earthly embodiment of these etheric beings that herald glad tidings.

Swans of course have long been associated with grace and this is a very true characteristic. There is much that one could add about the energy they carry, but I’ll mention just two things.

One, they are extremely powerful birds, and so they embody so well the energy of the graceful use of power.

Second, consider their distinctive long, elegant necks. It’s not they use their elongated necks to reach higher, but to reach lower. They submerge their heads down to the bottom of shallow water to feed on aquatic plants. – “They will also dig into muddy substrate underwater to extract roots and tubers”.  – So they are the perfect symbol for looking deep into one’s watery emotions, or even deeper into the “muddier substrates” of one’s unconscious impulses, to bring consciousness to what is going on beneath the surface, and to draw sustenance from that exercise.

I so love these birds. Such a blessing to encounter them on this icy morning, on a city lake, on a drive to work.