Hidden Lake Gardens…A Swan Story

Many people visit Hidden Lake Gardens in Lenawee County.  There is so much to see and do there.  But the main attraction for many is the sight of Hidden Lake itself.  And, for years Trumpeter Swans have lived there.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) are native to our region.  They are mainly identified by their all black bill.  I love their beautiful trumpeting call.  The Trumpeter in this picture I assume is the female.  I’m making that guess because she was alone today during my visit.  I don’t know where the male was?  But I know he had a tumor.  Perhaps the tumor took the life of her companion?  I’m not sure.  I sat on the lawn and watched her for a few minutes.  I wondered what would become of her now.  Swans are thought to mate for life and they can live up to 24 years.  Sadly she has had two mates die (assuming the last one died of the tumor).  Her first mate was killed in the night.  So there she was, wandering around, by herself.  Life can be cruel.  Is there anything we can do?  Should we do anything?  What makes them so special compared to a Mute Swan…the non-native species?  For me the answer is easy.  Humans are responsible for their declining numbers.  We used to kill them for their feathers which made the best quill pens.  Luckily somebody realized these creatures are too beautiful to drive to extinction.  Norman Maclean once said of the art of fly fishing that it is an art that comes by grace, and grace does not come easy.  I believe Swans symbolize grace and remind us (those who have fallen from grace) that we should always achieve to be better.  We should strive to leave this world better than when we found it.  So, YES we should help this swan.  And for those who say we should let nature take its course I say this.  Survival of the fittest is surely the way of the world.  Humans are the fittest but not because of intellect.  We are the fittest because of our capacity for love and compassion.  When we fail to show compassion we fail to be the fittest, and we too shall perish.

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