Hope takes me to Walden. The wish for silence in the midst of the hectic holiday season and a desire to see the swans again.
A week before Christmas I find them in the same part of the pond as I did the first time I saw them, off Red Cross Beach; the four of them swimming together. I stop to admire them before continuing my walk.
As I am nearing Thoreau Cove I am startled by the sound of wings flapping accompanied by an odd sounding humming. I look across the pond to see the four sleek white bodies gliding about ten feet above the water. I grab at my phone, frustrated I am not fast enough. They almost slide into the water before I manage to record the magic of what I am watching. They are now on the far side of the pond and I know that the Christmas “to do” list in my head is going to make it impossible for me to walk that far. So I watch them settle into their new play area before I more on.
A few days later I am driving past Walden. The Christmas rush grips me even tighter. Yet I turn into the car park. Even breathing Walden’s air for five minutes, standing under the trees for five minutes and looking out at the water is soothing beyond my imagination. And of course there is the hope of four graceful white birds swimming peacefully in the water.
Except there is no sign of them.
I squint into the sun, peering across the pond to where I last saw them. I run my eyes along the shoreline toward Thoreau Cove. My heart sinks like a stone. They seem to have flown away.
I could not have guessed how much I wanted to see them again and how dismayed I am not to. I turned and sighed deeply as I walked back up the ramp to the car park to continue with my pre Christmas errands, watching the sun glinting through trees and the water’s constant motion despite it having no where to go and nothing to accomplish in getting there.