Swan Lake

Green lake.JPG
On a steep hillside, overlooking the Firth of Forth, near its mouth at Dunbar, lies a hidden loch. Cloaked on all sides by the remnants of the ancient oak woods of Lothian, it has side stepped the passage of time. Nothing much here has changed since the old Votadini tribe watched the Romans sailing up the coast.

Green loch
Undisturbed by boats or fishermen, the clear fresh water is fringed with lush green reeds and irises, and planktonic algae. The perfect haven for a family of swans.

Swan family in shadows
But they were shy, can you see them in the shadows or the oak trees? Such well behaved children waiting for their parents to say it was safe. I couldn’t quite see how many there were, and then they ventured out.

Swan family
They looked so relaxed and happy, swimming in a neat line through the green fringed water, but mum and dad were ever vigilant at the front and rear of the line. Compared to the swans I often see in huge groups, this compact family were less tense. There was none of the usual jostling for position, or for the potential food people might bring, and they kept their distance from me and the dogs.

Swan line in lake.JPG
You could feel the connection between mum and dad, on either end of the line, and I wondered how long they had been together. Swans are very faithful lovers, mating for life, and it seemed that this couple had found a perfect quiet retreat to raise their young far from the madding crowd.

Swans swimming.JPG
When the loch narrowed a little further along the banks, I was able to get a little closer. I was filled with a simple glowing happiness watching this peaceful and contented family. Many of the tales about swans have an air of tragedy, but I felt no sadness here and remembered that swans were seen as embodied gods and goddesses by our ancestors. They travel to our world in the shape of swans, often in pairs, and certainly there was a heavenly feel to this beautiful family.

Swan family swimming.JPG
They have such a sense of presence that I can see why our ancestors felt they were embodied deities, or sometimes enchanted humans like the princess in Swan Lake. Linked to the sun in almost every culture across the world, the sight of them brings joy and light and calm beauty. Here in Britain they were associated with Lugh and Bride, both golden solar gods.

Swans in loch.JPG
Here is the view back down the oak fringed loch, or swan lake. It was such a tranquil scene, no wonder the parents chose this as their home. This would be a beautiful view to wake up to each morning, and I’m certain that there are days when the rising and setting sun will be beautifully reflected on the mirror of water. Watching the swans had slowed me down and brought me beautifully into their world and their pace. The perfect place to mindfully come into the present moment, where everything is alright and at peace.

Scottish freshwater loch.JPG
For the fact lovers, a group of swans on the water is called a bevy, but in flight they are called a wedge. The origin of the name is linked to singing, derived from Old English swan, German Schwan, Dutch zwaan and Swedish svan. All of these are derived from Indo-European root *swen (to sound, to sing). They sing silently of beauty to our minds and hearts.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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40 Responses to Swan Lake

  1. I’m not a fact lover but this time I am, I didn’t know Swan originated from the word meaning song. It just added to the grace and power of the swan, like music, it holds a universal ‘language’ for every one to marvel and find comfort in.
    I’m sure you know H.C. Andersens ‘The ugly duckling’ it starts as a quite tough (he’s definitely not known for sugar-covering things) and sad tale but ends with the beauty of the swan, not to judge appearance and most of all the transformation we can all go through, no matter how we start out in life…

  2. LB says:

    I’m such a fact lover and I’m so glad you included the facts as well as the photos. You tell such great stories!

  3. restlessjo says:

    Bewitching seems a very apt description for this post, Seonaid. What a special place they have found for themselves.
    I’m not normally a fact junkie but I’d never heard that expression ‘a wedge of swans’. I like it! 🙂

  4. Madhu says:

    Oh, the swans are beautiful, and your narrative even more so! Swans are venerated in Hindu mythology as well. The Goddess of knowledge is usually shown sitting on one!

  5. Lovely pix, facts and so calming. Although of course they are all paddling furiously underneath like us humans 😉 What a quiet spot you’ve found. I hope it stays hidden so that the next generation can also be raised in peace.

  6. I like the way to set the stage: introducing us to the environment first, then focus in on the swan family. Swans to me are ever fascinating, elegant, graceful. Beautiful symbols for most everything we treasure: loyalty, purity, elegance, divinity, peacefulness, mindfulness…

  7. You are a wonderful storyteller Mackenzie; the peace and tranquility was palpable. Thanks for bringing the magic!

  8. Lucid Gypsy says:

    They are very lucky swans to live as a bevy in such a tranquil setting. Thank you for showing us their world.

  9. Seonaid, you bring magic and enchantment in your posts. The swans are like a meditation. Thank you.

    • A wonderful meditation in graceful elegance….swans have much to share about the nature of true beauty.
      As for the magic and enchantment, it just keeps creeping in through the cracks 🙂

  10. Robin says:

    I always feel as if I’ve stepped into a land of enchantment when I visit your blog, Seonaid. 🙂 The swans are so beautiful. Lucky you, to be able to spend time with them.

    • It was a beautiful way to spend a summer afternoon Robin…..and enchanted was how the woods and swans left me feeling. There is something magical about the effortless way they glide across the water 🙂

  11. icelandpenny says:

    Oh Seonaid, all that peaceful natural beauty … and some delightful crunchy little linguistic factoids at the end!

  12. Again, you’ve entranced me with your bewitching words and images, Seonaid. The bevy of swans is a delight to behold. How wonderful that you should stray into their magical world and could take me there too. 🙂

    • Always delighted to hear that I’m bewitching readers 🙂
      It’s a really special feeling place….and somehow the encounter felt very intimate. All that green tinged light is so relaxing.

  13. Sue Vincent says:

    Very beautiful, Seonaid, such a peaceful place… and the grace of the swans always seems to lift such a scene to a higher level somehow

  14. A bevy and a wedge. Now I know. And when I use the terms, I’ll think of these in the ancient loch.

  15. John says:

    Lovely, refreshing breath of green air 🙂

  16. Nice. Swans are a rare treat whether in real life or in photographs. There is a small inland lake where we come upon them, rarely, on Cape Cod; although they are usually very far away and difficult to see. Your bond with them seems genuine … perhaps you were a swan in some previous incarnation. D

    • I seem to come across swans often David, and I do love to watch them. They are just so graceful, so beautiful….almost otherworldly in their gleaming white feather cloaks 🙂
      They sweep me back to childhood fairytales and myths….

  17. Sharon K. says:

    What a lovely post. They found a perfect spot to raise their young. Swans are so graceful and dignified, peaceful creatures. As always, your narrative floats alongside the beautiful images like poetry.

    • What a lovely description of my narrative….you made it sound just like a swan!
      It really is a beautiful spot, with a magical timeless air….and swans are always so beautiful to watch.

  18. A beautiful place and lovely to see the whole swan family together 🙂

  19. Uncle Tree says:

    Interestingly beautiful, wedge or bevy, or all in a row.
    Swan Lake is a real body of water — my lesson for the day.
    Thanks for sharing places I’ll never see, Seonaid! 🙂 Cheerz, UT

    • Indeed, or perhaps I should have called the post Loch of the Swans!
      Having just discovered it almost in my doorstep I will be back…..I’m imagining the autumn colours already:-)

  20. We think of most of the UK as being cities and over populated until you see photographs of places such as this that remain untouched by human hand (recent ones anyway) long may it remain so.

    • I guess that in the far south of England nature might be a little crowded out, but the further north you go in the UK the less people and the more wild nature you encounter. I was surprised to hear that’s the view others might have of this wild green isle 🙂
      I just googled it and apparently England has 1,010 people per square mile, while Scotland has 171…..of course most of the people live in and around the central belt of Scotland so once you head into the highlands that figure will drop away.
      In England most of the people are also crowed into a small area in the South East around London…..the north and the centre of England is also wild and unspoilt 🙂

      • We live in the rural mountains of Spain and there is a great deal of space here too away from the coastlines. I spent some of my childhood in Lancashire and loved the Lake District – particularly out of season. I have never really been a city girl – great for weekends but give me a bit of space and wildlife anyday. best wishes Sally

  21. gwynnrogers says:

    I love the serenity of your pictures of Swan Lake… it brings the ballet to mind. I think the family of swans were wise to choose that area for their home to nurture their family. Maybe they are a group of Gods and Goddesses that have decided to stick around to see what mischief we humans are creating. Do you go and check on the swans often… to watch the babies mature? The location is perfect for connecting with the Universe and letting go of worries…ahhhh, peace and serenity… lovely. Thanks!

    • I think the parents were very wise too…..I almost imagined them flying over the land and spotting a little glint of water among the thick green trees….a hidden treasure unknown to the other swans!
      It’s my first visit to this loch despite it being only 25mins drive from home…..but I will definitely revisit now that I’ve discovered it. It’s in the care of the Woodland Trust, and there is a trail of fairy houses among the trees….that will follow in another post 🙂
      I passed only one couple during my 2 hour walk….so peaceful.

  22. Rachael Charmley says:

    Lovely. I am so relaxed after reading this 🙂

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