The Swan Whisperer, Part 3

Lori McCray
3 min readMar 12, 2020

As Spring slipped quietly into Summer, the cygnets growing like wild weeds in a sweet meadow, Emory arrived at the pond one sunny Saturday, put down her bags, picked up her camera and waited to be noticed (she rarely had need to call. As soon as the swans spotted her they paddled over quickly). As was her custom, she counted the cygnets, to make sure they were all present (and accounted for). Today felt different. She could tell, even without counting, something was very wrong. Sure enough, two of the babies were missing. Em waited, thinking maybe they were just slow, having discovered something tasty, or perhaps they’d invented a fun water slide game, but Bella did a fabulous job of keeping them all together. Emmy knew if two were missing, they were gone.

Bella and 4 now

William & Bella hung their heads sadly, and didn’t feel like eating. “I’m so sorry the babies couldn’t get away from whatever was trying to eat them,” Em said quietly. “I know you did whatever you could to protect them.” The cygnets, subdued, ate their corn and cried and worried, afraid they’d be eaten too, while Emory pondered over Nature being so beautiful and so difficult. How life is so delicate and fragile. She felt more determined than ever to protect her swan friends, and do her best to keep them safe.

William and Bella, sad

Just then, a dark ripple in the water surfaced slightly, and all the swans jumped back together, like trained dancers, as Em saw that it was a Mink! She slapped the water frantically with her Very Big Stick (no woods walker should be without one) until the Mink slithered away. It reminded her of a snake, but with a rodent’s body. A Beaver Eel! She chuckled at the image. “What could possibly be funny?”, the largest cygnet asked. “That creature probably ate our little sisters!” Emory apologized for seeming insensitive, and explained ‘Beaver Eel’ to them. The entire family had a much needed laugh.

“I think today I will teach you your names,” Em said to the children. Her good friend Jesse suggested garden herb names. The largest, always the leader, came closer, wanting to be first. “Your name is Sal, for Salvia,” she told him. Then next in line was Cori, for Coriander, Cinny, for Cinnamon and the smallest, and only girl, Cami, for Chamomile (she always hung back a bit from her brothers, even when they were nearly grown). William and Bella smiled and said at the very same time, “How lovely!”

Sal, ever the show off, displays his darling little wings. Names approved.

Bonus pic, can’t use it in story as the cygnets are too tiny but so sweet!



Lori McCray

Photographer, Poet, Musician, Mother, Mystic, Gardener, friend of wild creatures, swan whisperer. Find me on Flickr: