The Swan Whisperer #7

Lori McCray
5 min readJun 30, 2020

(Here is #6. I’ll gather them in one place):

siblings making hearts

Emory noticed the chill in the air, in her early morning visits to the pond. She loved the early part of the day best, its tranquil beauty calmed her mind, and the silence soothed her soul. Since learning ticks prefer cloud cover, and having had Lyme Disease (caught early), she stays out of the woods unless it’s sunny.

One Autumn morning, Em arrived at the pond and couldn’t find William, or Bella, or the children, didn’t see them anywhere! “How strange,” she thought, plopping her bags down and finding a nice dry place to sit. She waited a long time (no watch, no phone, no time), trying not to worry. Emory left her bags and walked through the woods, finally impatient, clear to the end of the pond, calling for William, but not a swan in sight. “The coyote must be stalking them again. Poor sweet friends,” Em thought, as she made her way home sadly (but ever grateful that William is such a wise and devoted partner, father and teacher. “He will return when he feels it’s safe again, and I must be patient and trusting,” Emmy decided.

She waited a week to return, not wanting to interfere or make things worse. Not knowing if she she would see the swans or not, missing them (she’d just been away and now *they’ve* gone away, but not on a fun vacation. The children must be so frightened, knowing someone wants to eat them!)

Emory plunked her stuff down and before she could even call “William!” the entire family flew in from across the pond, and Em was excited to finally get a picture to send to her cousins (she was so excited, she missed the group shot and only captured William whooshing in at the end). “You fly so beautifully!” she beamed. “Like you’ve been doing it forever!” The young ones bowed their heads, embarrassed by the praise. “It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it,” said Cami. They were so hungry, from their week of hiding. Em was happy she’d brought extra. She thought ahead to Winter, how she’d have to bring water when the pond froze over. Swans need water to swallow their food (Em never drank when eating). “I’ll have some serious muscles by Spring!” she chuckled to herself.

Emory was spending lots of time in the garden. “Putting it to bed” before the first snowfall. Sometimes the bees didn’t go home at night and were hanging from a flower, damp and cold, so Em always warmed them up and sent them on their way. Tiny little creatures, with very important lives. It made her so happy to be their helper.

By the middle of November, the entire pond was frozen over, except for a tiny pool the family kept open by their body heat and movement. Emory brought them corn and warm oatmeal, lettuce, sometimes boiled potatoes, and William the 12 Grain bread he so loved. No one much cared for the idea of drinking from a container but finally William bravely tried it and everyone joined in. Emory gave him a hardy “Good boy William!” and he snorted loudly, quite pleased with himself.

One of Em’s water bowls slid too far away from her, and she couldn’t cross the ice to fetch it, weighing more than the swans. Only once did she mis-step and fall through the ice. It was one of the scariest moments of her life. If she hadn’t brought her walking stick, she might not have been able to scramble back onto the ice. A good stick is literally a life saver (this stick lives in the garden, until its Winter service. The others get left behind in the woods, but this one is special).

Swans look so funny, walking across the ice. They dislike it and it it’s hard work, so it would be rude to laugh but sometimes Emmy had to hide her mouth in her scarf and chuckle at their slapstick.

Winter (Emmy’s least favorite season) turned slowly into Spring, giving up the bitter cold reluctantly. The days lengthened and the garden sprang from the cold ground, each year a blessing and a miracle, never growing old. William & Bella began planning a new nesting site, and gently (at first) began encouraging their youngsters to leave home. If the juveniles (as they’re called) don’t seem to understand the message, both parents drive it home with relentless nipping and chasing. Sometimes the youngsters hid behind Em, and of course she protected them (like Em used to run to her grandma when her cousins picked on her!) but the time had come for the children to leave their pond in search of a new home, and make a life for themselves, elsewhere.

a good spot for a nest?

These days were so precious to Emory, knowing that each visit might be the last, with her young swan friends (still and always, her babies). One day they’ll be gone, rising on great wings to a marvelous new adventure. And as bittersweet as this parting always was, Emmy looked forward to the new brood’s arrival, to knowing and loving and cherishing the new cygnets, from the very beginning, until the inevitable day they all flew away. Inspired, she wrote them a poem:

Carry My Love With You

I loved you at first sight, totally and completely. Soon you will be gone, and I will long remember you. And when you open your great wings to fly to freedom, the jewel in my heart goes with you.

I wish you great abundance, and pray your life is beautiful. May Peace guide your every footstep. May Light encircle and protect. May the sanctity of my enduring Love, carry you safely home.

LBM 2/28/2011

A blessing for my young swans and of course my first, last and only son.



Lori McCray

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