“Good morning,” I reach down and rub Miss Spooky. She purrs a greeting in return. I close the bedroom door softly at this early hour and make my way through a tangle of cat legs to the wall of windows that overlook our lake.
“It’s snowing. Isn’t it beautiful?” Miss Spooky jumps up onto the arm of a chair and peers outside as well. “Let’s go see if the swans are sleeping.”
My slippers will get damp and my old housecoat will catch some fat snowflakes in her fleece folds, but this isn’t the time to dawdle. The white and gray swans, heads tucked beneath their wings, are riding the ring of water that remains unfrozen. One lone sentry cocks his head in my direction. When daylight kicks the last bit of darkness into yesterday that sentry will trumpet and the stirring will begin.
In the past few days the ice has crept ever closer to our shore. Ducks, geese, and swans have taken their turn swimming in the unfrozen circle, but they aren’t happy about sharing the water. The arguments have escalated to wing fanning, head bobbing, and ceaseless trumpeting. Somehow cooler heads prevail.
Yesterday the swans cracked the ice with their bills to expand their space. Some pushed against the thinner ice with their chests to open a path to another spot of water. They fed on the water plants beneath the surface. Ducks congregated around them like rock star groupies to share in the bits of food that dropped in their direction.
At this moment a group of six ducks swim in a single file around four sleeping swans. The lake is mirror flat. A lone seventh duck speeds along like a motorized dinghy to catch up to his mates. He cuts a sharp curve close to a gray swan and his wake causes it to lift its head and grumble. The sentinel trumpets a warning that doesn’t faze the speedster.
When the day gets a bit older, General Ben and Big Bertha will sit on their branch and survey their kingdom as only bald eagles can do. Each time the ducks and swans are held captive by ice they will swoop down in a low pass looking for a meal. Those duck groupies will dive beneath the wings of nearby swans.There is safety in numbers.
I’ve learned a lot from all that December brings. Sharing is important. Working together lightens the load and keeps the circle of life we live in open to all. We don’t have to agree on all things to agree on the fundamentals.
Miss Spooky jumps up onto the post near me and gives my arm an impatient head rub. Snow isn’t her favorite thing and I’ve lingered here longer than she prefers.
“Speaking of sharing,” I rub her head in return. “I’m guessing you would like your breakfast about now.” She leaps from the post in a graceful arc and heads toward the kitchen door. With one last look at the winter scene before me I turn and follow her inside.
The swans slumber on, unaware of the universal truth of sharing they have reinforced within me today.