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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.