March 23, 2014

White Swan

Trumpeter Swans

I love those random connections that sometimes form when you start reading up on something new. For my recent post on the origin of "sitting in the catbird seat", I was doing a bit of reading about James Thurber and his career at The New Yorker. I learned that Thurber started at the magazine after his good friend E.B. White introduced him to the magazine's founder and senior editor Harold Ross at a party. E.B. White, as you know, is best remembered today for his children's novels Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web and, one that is perhaps slightly less famous today, The Trumpet of the Swan. So it pretty quickly comes back to birds. Okay, I didn't say it was the most incredible connection, but for a guy writing a bird blog, it works.

Trumpeter SwansI know I read The Trumpet of the Swan as a kid, but I didn't really remember the story so I refreshed my memory by reading the wiki-plot summary and boy does it sound like ol' E.B. was on some serious meds when he wrote that one -- we've got a swan burgling a music store, one working in a nightclub in Philadelphia, and a man shooting a swan on a city street. But it's generally a sweet story at its core and surely owes something to classic animal stories like The Ugly Duckling or The Wind in the Willows (after all White's buddy Thurber wrote modern, updated versions of fables himself years earlier).
So maybe that isn't such a mind-blowing coincidence, but to add another layer of coincidence, the last stop of my recent Toronto-Hamilton outing ended up being an unplanned pop into LaSalle Park in Burlington and a look at what has to be the largest population of Trumpeter Swans in the GTA. If you've never seen or heard Trumpeter Swans, you might think, as I once did, that it's just one of those poetic names intended to conjure up imagery rather than a purely descriptive one, but take a look at this quick video I shot and listen to those guys play!

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." - E.B. White

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