Trumpeter Swans on a Winter Saint Croix River 29 December 2014
Trumpeter Swans on a "go around" landing approach
A distant sound catches my ear, and, for a minute, I am convinced I am hearing anthropogenic, industrial noise pollution. Isolated from the modern world, it takes me a while to figure out what I am hearing. It is not some kind of mechanical destruction, not some internal combustion machine, but the sound of nature's power and changing fury. I am hearing the sound of a giant ice raft colliding with the frozen fields of ice between island and channel. I am hearing the power of a wild river.
Trumpeter Swans among the ice flows
Swan music, warm breath, cold air...
Otter tracks and ice, Saint Croix River
I cross a small, shallow, frozen channel and sneak out to a favorite island. Wearing camouflage from head to toe, I nestle into the sprawling limbs of a giant silver maple tree. The show is free, and within a few minutes, the Trumpeter Swans add visual artistry of dance to the jazz brass they play so well. The air is cold, but I am warmed to the core.
As the beauty of the late afternoon sun drops below the western treeline and crowns of bur oak, white pine and silver maple stood out as black silhouettes against a frozen blue-black and orange sky, I move east to the forested hills and continued tracking along favorite deer trails. In the silence of the forest, I can still hear the distant crashing of ice flows and the echoing music of swans. A flash of movement draws my eyes to the snow laden forest canopy. A Barred Owl perches upon a limb and makes preparations to leap to higher boughs. The forest is strangely warm and calm as night settles in. I head home with my mind in good order and my heart invigorated by a winter walk in beauty.