Swan Family (detail) John Sullivan, Gloucester, 2015
The swans glide across the pond as a family all dressed in white. The two chaperone three fluff balls. The swan woman who wants to guard the young like their parents do tells me their incredible story.
Born not long ago in pond by Pebble Beach they traveled miles across the open Atlantic before coming to Brace Cove and Niles Pond. Just getting the cygnets across the sea of angry waves was puzzling till I learned they climb on the parents’ backs and ride safely there. Nature has a way. The journey from Cove Beach dividing mass of salt and fresh water to pond must have been easy compared to ocean voyage. They appeared secure but I have heard the coyote calls in the brush, seen the snapping turtles as they laid eggs, and watched hawks soar round.
I too keep a weather eye on the cygnets as I walk by the pond seeing how vigilant the parents are as they stare at me. I could watch the stamping of feet on shallow bottom of pond to raise food but do not move close. The large wings open aggressively. These wings powerful enough to raise a large swan into flight can also be a weapon to avoid.
My short vigils did not help this family. Whether by predator of nature or disease all three were lost outside my view. The parents, staid, in the pond, more removed than when they had young. Heroic voyagers across the ocean to a safe harbor that proved anything but a pond of growth and joy.
John Sullivan “I was born and raised in Maine, got a degree in chemistry before setting anchor in Gloucester some twenty five odd years ago. Got to know town by running two plants on fish pier.”