Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

The yearly return of the white, wild Trumpeter Swans a welcome sight

David Zirnhelt pens a column each week for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Usually, I seek inspiration for these articles in my work and life. This week was no different.

This morning I walked to the bullpen to ensure their security; that is, that they are not breaking out to be with cows too early.

Then I checked the prices we got at the last cattle sale. Next, I thought about the neighbour and his venture to his wilderness retreat down the valley.

My thoughts went back to the early days of dreaming about building a ranch as a place to raise children. In our early 20s, we had this dream. It may have been a dream inherited from a father and a grandfather.

While living in Vancouver for formal education and then working in Ottawa on serious urbanization challenges for a few years, the dream evolved.

Since I was a young child, our place was our refuge from the busy burg of 150 Mile, which was home.

To a very large extent, it still is.

For much of the decade after high school, my picture of a dream place was influenced by some Western thought. English literature and art often pictured beautiful, sculptured estates with a farm attached.

One picture, in particular, influenced my dreams of what a beautiful ranch would look like: manicured lawns (grazed by sheep?) with a big family home in the background with those lawns running to the water’s edge. In the water were white swans, peacefully swimming.

About the time all this was going on in my head, the Turners of Lonesome Lake in the Chilcotin were feeding the Trumpeter Swans, which were endangered.

Upon returning to my home place — this rural refuge and abandoned old homestead — the white wild Trumpeters had returned. They are majestic in their pure white plumage, especially when flying low in the valley moving from one feeding ground to another, sounding very much like a simple trumpet playing alone in simple orchestra.

Children and adults alike point out this spectacle, perhaps because it is dramatic and peaceful.

When Trumpters light on and swim the waters of the creek and the lakes they stand out because of their size and brilliant pure white and grey colours.

Western thinking often seeks to improve, somehow, on nature’s beauty and abundance. We then often overreach and destroy or diminish the wholeness of Creation. We are constantly reminded by scientists that we must restore the natural abundance that we inherited.

Remember the beautiful picture of the globe from early “space” travellers? The caption on the picture said something like: “It is whole.”

Then I think about the swans swimming in the British farm estates and feel that the wild habitat we enjoy is more heavenly than much of the agrarian dreams of European settlers in America.


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