Seven swans a-swimming
All right, so I’m falling behind on the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I’ll catch up…
There are more – significantly more – than seven swans in the picture above. Roskilde Fjord with its shallow waters seems very popular with swans in late autumn / early winter; it seems like a gathering place for their migration South for the winter. Some swans do spend the winter in Denmark, whereas others fly South.
In “The Ugly Duckling” Hans Christian Andersen lets the swans fly South for the winter, though of course the Ugly Duckling in the fairy tale is left behind.
They were dazzling white, with long graceful necks. They were swans. They uttered a very strange cry as they unfurled their magnificent wings to fly from this cold land, away to warmer countries and to open waters. (…) It was not that he envied them, for how could he ever dare dream of wanting their marvellous beauty for himself? He would have been grateful if only the ducks would have tolerated him-the poor ugly creature.
Well, I know my other references to Hans Christian Andersen – our most famous Danish writer – have been to the darker, more depressing stories he wrote, but at least as far as The Ugly Duckling goes he’s actually showing an optimist streak:
He felt so very happy, but he wasn’t at all proud, for a good heart never grows proud. He thought about how he had been persecuted and scorned, and now he heard them all call him the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The lilacs dipped their clusters into the stream before him, and the sun shone so warm and so heartening. He rustled his feathers and held his slender neck high, as he cried out with full heart: “I never dreamed there could be so much happiness, when I was the ugly duckling.”
You never know who you can be – or who you are going to be – and I guess this does for gardens as well. I think my lesson from this has to be that I need to open myself up to things that aren’t necessarily what I think of as “my thing”. I’ve already started – by accident – with the new bed in the lawn. I intended it to be a perennial bed, but then the only plants I had to put in it were roses and some soft-fruit bushes, so it is turning out to be more of a low shrubbery with some perennials dotted in-between. And a vacuum at the front where I will have to grow something from seed. Annuals, or maybe pretty vegetables.
It will be lovely, though absolutely not in the way I imagined when I started digging up the lawn for the bed. After all, as long as I grow something it will be lovely. I’ve got the seeds, I’ve got the bulbs; I just need to make something, any thing, happen and then I will be a success. And I do that every year, so I guess I am already a success. In other words, I rustle my feathers, hold my slender neck high and cry out with a full heart: “I am a gardener!”