Saturday, March 17, 2012

Swans = spring

The Whistler Swans are migrating to Canada and paused, as they always do, to dance with the geese, pintail ducks, mallards, gadwals and coots at Lee Metcalf Refuge. A glorious site, reminding me that, yes, spring is come. And yes, the swan is an archetype. Not defined as such, perhaps, but classic none the less...

We know (some of us in more personally humiliating ways than others) the tale of the Ugly Duckling where the gawky plain Jane can grow up to be, say a beautiful and talented Meryl Streep! And lest we forget, there's the princess in the Russian ballet Swan Lake, unable to express true love because an evil spell keeps her in swan form by day. Then we have the leading lady of the romance of all teen romances, The Twilight Saga with Bella Swan. Bella is both Ugly Duckling and under the spell of an evil (being a vampire) but gorgeous prince... mmmm.

The trumpeter swan was on the verge of extinction until the mid 1900's. Yet last fall when the swans migrated south, we went to the refuge and there were at least three trumpeters hanging out with the whistlers. One had a sliding red collar around his neck. He'd lift his head, the sheath of plastic would fall down around his shoulders, he ducked his head underwater to feed, the collar slipped up behind his eyes. We watched for a long time and I swear, the handsome guy was playing the collar like an accordion. Just for fun!

I love archetypes, take great delight finding them in everyday imagery. To me, the swan has come to mean the return of spring or the coming of fall as Brett and I make our pilgrimages to the refuge and watch incoming feathered fowl. Swans are a set above, though, with their white cloak of purity, their living grace, gliding over mirrored water and strutting their stuff as they rise up, wings extended like angels. Yeah, there's much symbology a swan can wear with dignity and panache. And the proverbial swan song? They so pull it off with aloof yet spectacular beauty.  Yes, the swan is a true star...  of stage and screen, of air and water!

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