Friday, December 23, 2005

Battle of the Swans

Recently I went for a walk along the river, and saw swans there for the first time in a while. (I wondered if they showed up for aesthetic reasons - because they look so nice against the white snow and black water.)

First I saw two swans, sleeping on the water. Their heads were tucked underneath their wings - you couldn't actually see their heads at all, just their long necks twisted backwards, looking slightly grimy and very odd. Floating, sleeping, headless swans.

On my way back, I saw that the two swans were awake, and spreading their wings in a most beautiful way, which I have never seen swans do before. They stretched their wings up above their heads, and kept them raised up. They curved their necks gracefully.

It turns out that this is some kind of threat display. Because two more swans had landed on the river, and the first two swans sailed towards them - one on one. The new swans swam away, keeping their wings folded. If any of them made any noise, I couldn't hear it.

The funny part was that the first pair of swans were only interested in defending a certain portion of the river. They chased the new swans away, each one in an opposite direction. After swimming a short distance, they got bored and went back to "their" spot. One of the new swans swam downstream. The other swan went upstream, but apparently wanted to rejoin its companion. It kept swimming back into First Swan territory, where it was immediately met and chased away.

But eventually the first swans gave up and let the intruder swim past them. Hopefully the second pair was reunited.

I've heard that swans are bad-tempered. Now I'm inclined to believe it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

First Snow in December

One of my favorite things is discovering that it has snowed in the night. I open the curtains in the morning, expecting to see black pavement, and see white snow instead. While I slept, the world has been changing itself, and I like that.

the sound of snow falling
scritch, scritch, swish
its pure whiteness

people say
"it looks so clean and fresh"
(only when it's new, of course)
the snow does not know that it is clean
the snow does not value cleanliness

the thoughtlessness of snow

Friday, December 02, 2005

Vagaries of the US Postal Service

I live in an apartment building, which means that there is a fair amount of turnover, and mail arriving for people who no longer live there.

A few months ago, one such letter arrived. It sat around on top of the mailboxes for a while. Eventually somebody wrote on it, "Moved," but this accomplished nothing.

A few weeks ago, there was a letter in my mailbox, addressed to somebody who must not have lived here for at least three years. Usually I throw mail like that out (neither personal nor important-looking), but this time, on a whim, I wrote "Moved - Return to Sender" on it and stuck it up next to the long-enduring letter.

The next day, my returned piece of mail was gone. Some intelligent person then wrote "Return to Sender" on the older letter. No doubt they confidently believed, as did I, that this would cause the letter to be returned to the sender.

But no! It's still there.