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Swan Lake ice age


D. J. Sweetenham


  Today is January 11, 2014 and four mornings ago, on the 7th, the temperature when I was feeding the ducks was 5º F. That “F” really does stand for Fahrenheit! This morning it was 57º F. Go figure! The ice has all melted and if it wasn’t for the siphon system in the dam, we would have been flooded out if you count in the amount of rain we are experiencing this morning. Just what is going on with the weather? Is someone trying to draw our attention to the fact that all is not going well with the world and that we, humanity that is, need to make some serious changes in our behavior patterns? I’ve made some changes in my life recently, late though that may be. I just hope it isn’t too late.

  Well, let’s change the subject there and get back to the wildlife here at Swan Lake. I told you about the sudden influx of Muscovy ducks to the feathered population and how attractive they are. They still have a few red lumps on their heads but that doesn’t detract from their beautiful plumage. One morning last week I was walking along the wooden fence by the waterfront when this large, dark-colored bird came swooping in over the lake straight towards me. No more than four feet away from me, it landed precariously on the top stringer of the fence and sat there, wobbling, trying to maintain it’s balance. It made me think of a D.U.I. suspect failing a roadside sobriety test. The gyrations soon subsided and I could see that it was one of the Muscovys, with  almost black feathers which glowed a metallic green color when the sun shone on them. We stood and stared at each other for a few seconds before it spread it’s wings and flew off. “Thanks for dropping in!” I called, as it headed for the opposite shore.

  Last week, when on a grocery buying trip to my favorite grocery store, Ingles, I noticed some 1 lb clear plastic containers of Christmas nuts on sale. I knew my back-yard squirrels would enjoy them so I bought one and each morning, when I fill the bird-feeder I put half a dozen or so in the small wire baskets at the ends of the feeder. That supplements their Christmas present, a large pressed corn block suspended on a spring hanger from one end of the bird feeder. The birds and the squirrels seem to share their “goodies” quite happily and looking out of the window a few moments ago I watched as two squirrels and three doves waded into the large puddle of rain-water at the base of the feeder pole hunting seeds and nuts which had fallen from the feeder above. Two totally different species, coexisting happily. And we’re supposed to be the smart ones?

  Today, being Saturday, Millie was in charge of the Kids’ usual morning outing which normally consists of a fast-food breakfast in the car and then a quick tour of any yardsales she can find. Hey, everyone should have a hobby, right? Her’s is yardsales, mine is writing to you! Anyway, I decided to visit “Biscuits and Brunch”, Johny Bassler’s place on Burke Street in Stockbridge. By the number of customer’s there it must be a very popular place for breakfast and I saw two more Miller’s Store Breakfast Club members sitting at a table for three, so I joined them. The rain outside was torrential at the time but no-one seemed to notice. Nothing could dilute the cozy, friendly, family atmosphere inside which made breakfast a very enjoyable and tasty event. I could be having breakfast there on several Saturday mornings in the future.

  On a more somber note, I have to report the death of one of the Muscovys. This one was mostly white and I first saw him laying in the weeds at the side of the road by the swampy area of the lake. He was just a bundle of white feathers with two feet sticking up in the air. Another, mainly white, Muscovy sat a few feet away from him. I said earlier that I had made some changes in my life, one of which was not to judge others when I didn’t know the whole story but it certainly grieves me that such a beautiful, innocent creature should die just because someone was in a hurry for whatever reason. The speed limit there is only 25 m.p.h.

  D.J. Sweetenham, originally from England, is the author of Bumps in the Road and Bumps in the Road - Part Two, highlights of his interesting and far-flung life. D.J., his wife, and two small dogs, live in Stockbridge.




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