Bonne Annee 2016

Girl and goose

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The New Year celebration of 2016 continues with this unusual card. This one is a shout out to my mother, Betty, who has devoted considerable effort to the conservation and care of swans. I bought the card for her.

The swan ringing in the New Year with the good luck horse shoe could symbolize any number of things – love, beauty, and transformation to name a few that would work for New Year’s wishes. (Horse shoe is upside down, allowing the luck to run out, but perhaps the French don’t buy that part of the symbolic reading?)

This little girl has a pretty devilish look. She’s got that swan rigged up like a goat cart here, transporting her flowers. She knows stuff about the coming year – not sure we want to know what however. The card was sent, but the stamp and cancellation have been lost. On the back, written in a beautiful script is, Bons Souhaits to tous Marie Coissart (Good Wishes to you) and a lovely little sticker with a pink bow on the address side which says Mes meilleurs voeux (Best wishes).

For a bird that represents such lofty symbolism, the mute swan gets a bad rap in general. Everyone’s first reaction is to say they are mean, and the more scientific critics will mutter things about them not being indigenous. As some of you may have read in past posts, Betty spent years rescuing injured swans, but also fighting against movements to slaughter them in areas where they are not wanted.

My experience of swans is that, if not guarding a nest, they are no more or less nasty than any other wild animal – perhaps because of their beauty we hold them to a higher standard? I can think of many occasions that required my mother to handle them. (Not that I am suggesting that you try this – experienced people do take precautions such as gloves and goggles when helping an injured animal.) Meanwhile, horses aren’t indigenous to this country either and I hear no talk of the value of eradicating them.

If you want to feed a swan, use something like corn – hunks of bread are even worse for them than they are for human waistlines. Frequently my mother gets calls about swans poking around for food – often in garbage areas. Invariably it is a swan whose wings have been pinioned (to keep them from flying away from a manmade pond) but left in ponds without sufficient food to support them. Strange that some folks are killing them and others are trying to keep them in a pond they have made – yes?


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