March 16, 2022, Newnan, GA- Three trumpeter swans, mother, father and son, make the rounds of Lake Redwine, an artificial lake around which many new homes on the west side of this relatively serene town in west Georgia have sprung up in recent years. I am here, for three days, visiting my middle brother and his wife.
The swans, for years, kept other water fowl, particularly ducks, from settling in around the lake. An attack on the mother swan, by a snapping turtle, three years ago, resulted in her losing her lower beak. This seems to have mellowed out the trio. They have turned inward, reverting to the cygnine behaviour of parents bullying their cygnet into leaving the nest, once it comes of age. So far, it has not worked. Dutiful son still looks after his mother, even if it seems she may want him to move on.
How close to human are these opposing behaviours? The difference is that the birds are acting on instinct. Humans, with the powers of reason and utterance, still manage to hold grudges and thrive on half-truths. I will not give any specific examples, out of respect to those involved, but I keep learning of families in which parents and children push each other away, and not always out of a desire to see the other become self-sufficient.
With the swans, there are winners: The offspring get to start their own family and the parents can hatch a new set of cygnets. With humans, the hits often just keep on coming.
Humility and forgiveness-are these so impossible?