Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Cruelest Month

"A dead frozen swan, Lake Waban"

By this time of Winter, when Spring seems just around the corner, life in the world beyond our front doors is getting desperate. Forage is scarce and delivers less energy for the amount of work expended to get it. The bodily reserves (fat) of most animals is nearly depleted. A huge expenditure of energy is looming too: Spring mating. This swan had gradually separated itself from the larger group that calls Lake Waban home. For several weeks it lackadaisically foraged in a quiet corner of the lake, a nook that freezes over before the rest of the lake. After a week or so of this behavior, it died and lay frozen on the ice near the shore.

It was odd to see the solitary swan poking around in the roots and muck along the edge. It looked so serene dabbling in the dark, cold water. But it didn't look well. As I drew this posthumous portrait this morning, a man struck up a conversation and said that he had seen this swan two days ago. The water was frozen and the swan rested on the ice with its head down. He clapped his hands and it raised its head but didn't really move. Was it sick, old …lovelorn?

I imagine the body will winter here, frozen in place until the lake can reclaim one of its most majestic residents.

a small log tossed on the ice to see how strong it was

The dead swan


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