Saturday, February 2, 2008

In case you were wondering...

"Who you lookin' at, lady??"

"I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away."

--Holden Caulfield in Chapter One of
J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye"

Well, it's a shame that poor old Holden Caulfield wasn't wondering about the swans in Stratford, Ontario, because here in my home town, WE would have had some answers for him.

This morning, after our trip to the Farmer's Market, the girlies and I strolled over to the Parks Board building down on Morenz Drive, which is located down near the Avon River. In behind the building, there is a special enclosure that has been designed for the Wintertime Happiness of our beloved local swan population:

"Yep, she's lookin' at us! And she's got a CAMERA! Everybody say CHEEEEESE!!"

"...and stand up straight!!"

One of the two Black Swans...

And two of the NOISIEST geese "guests"...

In late-autumn each year, our swans are carefully "rounded up" and brought to their specially designed winter abode. They have a warm barn in which to nest and keep warm, and full access to an outdoor enclosure, which boasts a "heated" pond. The water is never allowed to freeze over, and so many ducks and geese choose to join their friends in the enclosure during the winter months. Let me tell you, the noise they all made today made it seem like one gigantic pool party-- there was certainly a LOT of quacking and honking, flapping and splashing going on, which sent the girlies into fits of giggles.

Mr. Robert J. Miller is Stratford's Honourary Keeper of the Swans. For over forty years, Mr. Miller has volunteered his time to work with Stratford’s Board of Park Management to help care for these fine feathered citizens, and he has also written a book on the subject, entitled "The Swans of Stratford". A documentary has also been made by Alan and Kaaryn Gough, a husband-and-wife film-making team who live here in town. It is a remarkable account of one year on the Avon River. Although the swans appear to lead a placid and peaceful life, this documentary reveals the violence, the intrigues, the romantic complexities, the joys and sorrows that fill their lives.

The girlies and I are eagerly looking forward to SPRING... not the least of the reasons being that we hope to be present when the swans are released back into the river for the warmer seasons. There is a little parade from the enclosure, and we all line the sidewalks and watch as the gigantic birds waddle down the road, behind a fully-uniformed bagpiper. It is a strangely dignified affair... and one that we are loath to miss!!

For, as silly as those swans seem to me, they are yet another beloved symbol of "Home".


painted maypole said...

i would not want to swim in that "pool" - imagine all the poop!

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, I assure you, this place is beautifully clean!! Mr. Miller and his staff take their job VERY seriously, and this enclosure is kept as clean as some of our finer hotels in town...

The water in the pool is constantly running, and cascades out of a little pipe in the middle, like a tiny waterfall.

It's quite a remarkable sight-- and standing right at the fence, we thought it smelled BETTER than the river!!

Lucky swans...

xo CGF

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