It’s the middle of April, a small grove of birch trees across the pond have slim black branches on their crown. It’s a few weeks before they turn on their crimson red buds, telling me spring is here. With the black and white spruce and Norway pine trees uphill and behind them and the pond in front, these few birch, dwarfed by the tall green shadows behind, have been a favored view for some years. As the winter’s ice melts away day by day, I look down on the pond from a distance and see the thin white lines of birch trees long into the evening and short in the morning, shadowed by a wall of evergreens. They’ll bud bright red soon, holding my attention through spring on their small piece of ground.The creek flowing into the pond is open now and widening the pond ice more each day.
I watch as the same pair of trumpeter swans, as years past, come gliding in, bugling their arrival as if the world’s been waiting. The pond is still under ice and snow so the pair bide their time, swimming up and down the creek, taking walks across the pond ice for a change of scenery. Maybe they’re looking for a safe place to build their new nest when the snow and ice are gone. During some summers, like last, the beaver would open the dam up the creek, flood the pond and take out the swans’ nest.
The other evening they came flying over the hill, gliding low over the pond ice and snow and splashed into the open creek, trumpeted some and swam upstream out of sight. I knew it...in a few minutes they were bugling nonstop as they came around the bend, wings splashing, and were airborne just as they got to the ice edge. They flew low, circled the pond as they slowly gained altitude to clear the surrounding hills. They’re showing off, I know they are!
They’ll come and go almost daily, flying to other ponds and lakes, I suppose, to consider a better place. For years now, they decide this pond is for them. Later, when spring is really here and summer’s near, a few other swans will fly in. I believe these are the baby swans from the year past. And they’re not welcome to stay. They are chased off as the parents fly after them, two feet off the water, wings splashing, their bugling reaching a crescendo. The offspring go find their own pond. They may come back now and then but don’t stay.
After the pond is ice free and the floating bog clumps find their summer place near shore, the swans start building their new nest. It’s a big nest, easily five feet across. One stands on its head underwater retrieving the nesting reeds and weeds, the other puts them in place. They spend days getting their nest set for the eggs, then she incubates while he proudly swims near.
Suddenly one morning, we see two beautiful white swans swimming across the open water with three, four, maybe five small gray swans crowded between them. They’re so tight together for the first few days, it’s hard to get a count. As the summer goes by, the gray turns white, the bugling grows louder, the flying lessons begin, the birch grove starts showing its bronze leaves. Sounds like a good year!