Friday, November 12, 2010

Cloud Phantoms - Tundra Swans

It is amazing what the sound of hundreds of migrating Tundra swans can do to my soul...or the sound of just one. Early Wednesday morning I caught the sound of one small flock migrating high overhead, their white forms floating against a steely gray sky. My heart jumped, pulse quickened, excitement rose! They were back! What had started out as a cold, rainy, dark day suddenly seemed full of wonder and promise!

Ever since I first heard the sound and witnessed the sight of them flying overhead several years ago, I have been  enchanted by "cloud phantoms" with melodious barking voices. They seem magical and other worldly to me. They always seem to migrate through on days that are dark and overcast or during the night when their calls sound eerie in the darkness and their forms float by spirit-like overhead. 

I found them later in the day resting at Mann Lake, a small reservoir, near my home. There were several crazed bird watchers like me in attendance with spotting scopes, binoculars and cameras with powerful telephoto lenses, all of us excitedly chatting about the nearly 1000 swans that had graced us with their presence during the night. I took at least 100 photos to record the event and for reference in future paintings. Eventually, I had to tear myself away and head home.

I had hoped to see the swans one more time, but when I visited the reservoir this morning all, but four, were gone. What a great blessing it was to see them though! I am mulling around some ideas for paintings now, but I'm not sure I will ever be able to capture how I feel when I see them flying. That may be something held in my heart, a gift from God just for me. I will try, of course, but until you stand shivering under a steely gray sky, listening for their cries, straining your eyes to see them float down from the heavens, you will never truly understand their magic.