Watching the Swans

You know the story of the girl who had twelve brothers? Their stepmother wanted to get rid of the brothers so her own son would inherit the family fortune, so she turned the brother to swans. The girl discovered the treachery and traveled to the Fairy Queen where she learned how to break the spell–she had to harvest and dry, spin and weave nettles into cloth, and then sew the cloth into shirts.  After many terrible trials, she finally managed the job, but an emergency kept her from completing the twelfth before she had to free them, so the youngest brother lived the rest of his life with swan wings.

Of all the compelling elements of this story that I return to again and again, the part that always takes me into the enchantment is the longing the girl feels when she sees the swans flying. The story taps into the human sense of ache and desire that comes with watching the strings of birds flying so high above earth, and hearing the wild barking of the swans as they travel northward.

Sometimes I am the sister, determined to save the others, to bring it all ’round right in the end. Sometimes I am that youngest brother, part human-part swan, doomed to live between great longings, grateful for both lives, exhilarated by the power of straddling worlds.

Gratitude List:
1. A sweet day off chaperoning a field trip with my second grader and his class to Nixon Park
2. Tundra swans
3. Gulls carpeting a field in white
4. Getting some exercise
5. A good novel (right now it’s Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed series–third time through)

May we walk in Beauty!

Today’s Task


Today has a singular work,
a quest that only you can accomplish,
a riddle that only you can solve.
What is the knot that you will untangle?
What missing piece will you add to the puzzle?

In the story, you enter the house of the witch
and she gives you three impossible tasks,
problems that you must solve
with heart and ingenuity
and a little help from a friend.
What has she asked of you today?

Gratitude List:
1. Tweaking.  Trying until you get it right.
2. Fun with First Graders.  Yesterday’s field trip was delightful, even when the bus broke down.
3. My children’s wise and caring teachers.
4. Good stories.  Well acted.  Well told.  Well lived.
5. How the heart seeks what it needs.

May we walk in Beauty!