Spring flowers
autumn moon
summer breezes
winter snow:

With mind uncluttered
·  this is  ·
the finest season!

-Wúmén Huìkāi

A closing circle

The silver Swan, who, living, had no Note,
   when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast upon the reedy shore,
   thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:
“Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes!
More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise.”

-Orlando Gibbons/Christopher Hatton 1612


December 2nd: high 36ºF, low 29ºF. Previous day’s high, an unseasonable but welcome 61ºF. Condition of pond: open water throughout, after complete disappearance of skim ice formed in late November. Mute swans active:

Swans at Pond 02

Photo above courtesy of Harold McAleer, who also posted this video taken from Rt. 117.


December 8th: high 24ºF, low 14ºF, after a 17ºF night. Solid overcast, steady high winds. Condition of pond: almost completely frozen over (though thinly; this isn’t yet the beginning of walkable, skateable ice); wisps of dusty snow blow into traceries that sweep and shift. Mute swans active, but constrained. With a nod to the opening of Citizen Kane:


Far out from the sheltering banks—


even further than that—


is a tiny pool of open water where


a pair of swams swims in decreasing circles for hours as day and light also decline. Whence this puddle? Perhaps a stable channeling or vorticity in the steady wind keeps the surface agitated at that spot. Perhaps an underground spring, as some allege to feed the pond; or the pumping action of presure changes across its length. Perhaps the birds themselves provide enough motion to prevent overgrowth.

The swans dip, swallow and preen, as swans are wont to do. Mostly, they keep their heads down; wind chill in these conditions may be more of a problem than the relatively balmy and more-or-less invariant 55° water. But a little after the time of (unnoticeable) sunset, temperature and wind conspire to close the diner completely, and they flee—perhaps to the river, where there will be open water in far deeper chills than this.