Swan Thoughts

Swans, geese and bald eagles

I admit to feeling foolish when I looked at this picture. I had captured swans with the camera sitting on the ice while some were taking off from their ice flow. Good job Gary. I didn’t even notice that two of them were Canadian Honkers(geese) and two bald eagles had snuck into the background of the picture.

I should have noticed the bigger picture, set up a tripod and put everything into focus. In my defense the wind chill was minus zero, it was a misty blowing snowy day. The air was almost foggy and I was parked behind a big spruce tree after sneaking up on the birds. They were mostly facing the wind coming at me and in no mood for swan poses or looking pretty on their little patch of ice. basically giving me their backside (swan moon?). My hands froze and so did the camera and the batteries.

See the misty air? I might opt to be in the cabin by the fireplace

I was not going to get any clear pictures so I opted for “winter weather-nature” pictures instead. Context is so important isn’t it? There was way more to my iced swans than I had thought.

Well, you can see the winter weather. We have had a foot of snow and mostly below freezing temperatures for awhile. What you realize is going on is the bald eagles are watching to see if there is an opening for any vulnerable birds. The eagles are bird watching with an agenda. From experience these mature eagles know that there may be some signets that will not make it any further in the migration and be left behind. A lone swan no matter how big is no match for a hungry eagle. The eagles determine the rules, it’s natures way. For now, patience is a virtue. Not for me, I’m freezing.

As the swans began to take off and disappear to the other end of the lake, it occurred to me that cultures and governments are not much different than the swans and eagles. The ones with the most power make the rules. Regular people are just as vulnerable as the swans are to the eagle. I’m not going to expound on that as each of us has our own ice flow and cold storms to weather. The key to surviving is doing life together. The birds seem to even take in other species on the same ice flow sharing the wild rice beds for food now underwater.

This was my third time out with the camera. The weather was better the other times so I’ll share a few pictures of different aspects of the swan migration in a slide show. just click on one to enlarge and hit the buttons showing on each side of the picture.

Like the bird migrations, life has dangers we don’t see and we imagine dangers that are not there. I’m not dangerous to these birds except for the danger they put themselves in getting away from me. It’s hard to notice the bigger picture.

Life’s context is hard to see when we are in it. Did you notice that the harsher the weather the more the pictures turn out more like a black and white photo? It’s true. When life is hard the colors of life get less noticed. Finding and knowing God has been a huge deal for me. Relationally and in all areas He has put the color into my life. I do not run to the other end of my ice flow in fear of God like so many.

I love the claims of Jesus (yes, I’m a follower) when he said “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33.

I have one other picture of the brush in the woods I (thankfully) only partially had to go through to get these pictures after the storm. Yes, you may feel sorry for me. Sometimes hard work is required to get a good picture. Usually I just do things the hard way…sigh

Seriously? Where is the path to the lake?

Feel free to kindly comment on your insights about life from these pictures…Gary

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

66 thoughts on “Swan Thoughts

  1. You da man! We’re freezing in Kentucky because it got down to 30 last night!
    But as a Canadian friend says, “You can always put on more layers no matter the cold, but in the heat you can only take off so much until the neighbors call the police!” 😂
    LOVE the pictures!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks c.a.
      I just wish I could take my pictures with my mitts on.
      I do hear that expression around here a lot as it gets colder.
      My daughters family in KY says it’s time for the fleece and jackets there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My friend the weather played against you my friend. Just like life does us. I think you did one heck of a job with the camera considering Mother Nature was doing you no favors. Nice writing and photo ops. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those eagles are quite versatile. They also stay near the open water rivers far north of us year round. I cannot imagine they can have such a wide temperature range. We get hot 10 degrees above normal and cold 10 degrees below normal and need a huge wardrobe to fit the occasion.


    1. Thank You Suzette.
      I love the Canada goose as well and I was surprised to see them so close to swans which get 3x their size. It would be fun to see them in the same V form flying south mixed with the swans. That would be a new one for me.
      There are many “Nature picture truths” one could draw from some of these pictures.


    2. I am partial to the flying ones as well Suzette. Flight is so amazing. Could you imagine being in a plane that few like an eagle and landed like one? I couldn’t take a hummingbird plane.


  3. Living in South Africa with warm summer temperatures at the moment, I can’t begin to imagine the cold, brrrr… But what a beautiful country and what beautiful pics!

    First gem, ‘the key to surviving (even thriving) is doing life together.’ True, from Genesis to Revelation, the ‘communitas’ of family and saints. I’m passionate about that, and could give many examples as I’m sure YOU could. My favourite book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (martyred under the Nazis) is entitled “The Life Together” (no need to expand on that as he endured multiple trials and eventually execution by Heinrich Himmler).

    Second gem, the difficulty but vital importance of trying to see ‘the bigger picture.’ Applies to all of life, and particularly God’s saving purpose in Jesus Christ. Fortunately I tend to be a ‘big picture’ man, that does help somewhat…

    Thanks for this picture-post, Gary. We were there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are gems Erroll. I have Dietrich’s book lying by my easy chair beside my Bible and “Reflections of a Ragamuffin” as well. I plan on expounding on those “gems” in my spiritual blog “Gods ways are different” down the road. Keep up the good work in the Word.
      Also, Yes, cold is a long season here and people from the south freeze until they discover that extremely warm clothes exist here that do not exist there.
      There is more adjustment in one’s mind then one would think, a little more than “thinking warm thoughts”.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Gary, for these excellent shots and a look into the pure natural world up there reflecting the spiritual world everywhere. Several years ago I got a brief taste of the great white north at or slightly above your latitude, though you may look further uphill for that country, which always makes me wonder how people can survive in Canada (another story). It is a cold that doesn’t quit which, as you state, requires a form of outer wear unknown to those in southern regions. I think it may all be relative but it encourages me that a brrrrr cold veteran such as yourself also freezes in that environment, meaning I guess that no one up there may really ever get used to it but is forced to deal with it and people find a way.

    The collection of birds is interesting. Looks like a family confab, in the another country heard from style, as if maybe normal squabbles are put on ice and new found friends gather together against the sentinel of a common enemy. Those eagles fit perfectly in the picture you paint and though it may be true technically according to the shutterbugs fighting the elements that the photos and that particular one could be better I think you have captured the scene perfectly especially because you didn’t notice them until afterwards. That’s how the effective and most sinister enemies are in that one fails and I do mean fails to notice their presence until it may be too late or very close to it. That those guys could hoist a massive swan is telling in that no matter how big or good we may think we are we could get carried off also at any time. We must be very careful to avoid the spiritual cold and do what the Lord taught to create and keeps things “warm” in part so enemies cannot hide.

    There are many being carried off at present. They never noticed the ever-present sentinels looking for an opening, a weakness, the weak ones, the unaware ones, the ignorant and the lazy ones… As you said, “The eagles determine the rules, it’s natures way.” The rules have been determined by a much higher power which the eagles play by and do their job extremely well, as do the hidden enemies of God’s people, who must always be at least a step ahead of their enemies but better to be many steps. And see the black and white sentinels before seeing the swans and geese. And anticipating their moves and being as big and as bad a swan as we can be fully aware of being considered dead meat but never becoming so because we listen to and apply the Words of the Master. Those who don’t pay attention get picked off. The weak ones must die.

    This life is a proving ground for those who pass the required tests to make the next life, and heaven will be sparsely populated. In trying times, as these, the spiritual weather gets downright bitter and blows through regular clothing and also blows through regular winter clothing and we must find a way to appropriate the required ultra-cold weather gear of which to adorn ourselves or we. will. freeze.

    How cool it is that the birds in your great pictures have enough fire in the breast to stay warm enough on the icy waters and even in them, and even with an unrelenting bitter blowing wind blowing on them that still can’t put the fire out. The elements must be somewhat frustrated at this, that even though they are equipped to kill and kill quickly the Creator has blessed the flying ones with the proper gear that not only helps them survive but even thrive. We could learn that lesson.

    And those who see who notice the eagles in the tree know the eagles will go hungry and if not careful may get eliminated themselves depending on how far they want to take it. A spiritual man knows he must fight. He has no choice. In choosing the Lord Jesus he has chosen to immediately enter the fray and fight alongside Him. He not only learns how to survive in all weathers and even the bitter cold but also fight within it and continue to win. The eagles don’t care about such healthy ones because they know they have no chance. Bur stragglers beware. Lazy unaware Christians get taken out. And thus is at it should be. They don’t deserve the next place because they failed in their due diligence in this place.

    I wonder if those eagles, those lone sentinels in black and white in a black and white world ever found a weak one that day. I assume they must have. They must survive. They must eat. They must do their jobs. In the natural world they look for lone victims here and there. In our world it appears at present that there are victims everywhere. Things have flipped in that eagles are having great conventions in the yonder trees not quite believing their luck, as a hunter may find a field thick with deer in which an open sites saddle gun will work just fine.

    Thanks again Gary. Many thanks for your strong witness and for braving the elements to give us a taste of your great natural world up there. Hope you thawed out okay. Blessings

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RJ you rolled out many aspects of natures scenario as a picture of our earthly and spiritual scenarios being played out. Reality happens despite our amount of awareness (or unawareness) and will continue into eternity where following Jesus here matters for eternity.
      Part of my writing style and motives is to put a spread on the table to draw people in their various interests and hope the interaction with them and each other rubs off and creates a seeking from the hungry and thirsty.
      Swan pictures will peak curiosity. It’s a start to trust and relationship building that I hope will last into eternity.
      Thank You for your hard work, thoughts and well thought out comments.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy, good to know. They think they are swans it looks like. It’s finally a sunny day but I’m spending the time in the woods on our fall hunting harvest mission to fill the freezer for winter. I’ll bring the camera which will probably cost me a deer while taking pictures of squirrels…again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We actually have more swans than geese this year. And , last night the rifle season for deer expired. As if on cue deer came into our yaerd after dark and ate my wifes dried up flower garden.The pawed the snow away to get at it…


  5. Seeing these pictures Gary does my heart a world of good. I love the sights and sounds of the migrating birds. The corn and soybean fields that surround our home make a perfect layover for the migrating geese and swans. They have yet to arrive this year. One morning last fall as I watched group after group of geese fly over and settle into the corn fields, I thought that this is how church should look- traveling through life together, honking one another on in encouragement, coming together to feed on God’s word, and warning of danger. Your pictures and words brought that thought back to mind. As you said, “A lone swan no matter how big is no match for a hungry eagle. . . The key to surviving is doing life together. The birds seem to even take in other species on the same ice flow sharing the wild rice beds for food now underwater.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right Beth, it should be a picture of the church doing the “one anothers” taking care of each other.
      Soybean and corn fields huh, that sounds like a good feeding spree for them, the harvesters always miss enough to feed the birds….Hard to sneak up and take pictures though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unless you are dressed as a slow moving shrub or shock of corn it would be hard to sneak up on them. We have a healthy fox and coyote population so it’s understandable why they are skittish when out in the open. I can hear the sound of the combine harvesting the soybeans as I type which means we should begin seeing some flocks landing there in the next week or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing the fruits of your suffering with us. That’s very generous of you.
    My favorite is the first one, with the eagles in the background, and the swans sharing their ice floe with the geese. You make a good point about We all have our own ice floes, but it’s nicer when we share the highlights and the trials.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t thaw out in a while Kathy. I try to make it sound like I’m suffering. I actually have very little feeling in my hands from an accident a long time ago.
      I like that picture as well but the swans flying with the cabin in the woods is my favorite. I’d like to be in the cabin with a view of the lake and all the bird drama.
      I also relate to the swans procrastinating to go south. They must like blizzards and icy water. I think they wait too long.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, we so often settle for a patch of “skin” of the picture don’t we.
      And, yes. My camera froze in the burst mode so it kept taking pictures while I’m banging on it to quit. I put it under my two layers of coats and warmed it so it quit (the old ice water jar on the counter condensation effect). taking it out everything fogged up and it was the end of shooting as it refroze quickly. In the below freezing air everything is fine at that temperature except battery life. I just added more moisture to freeze the mechanisms by warming it up with my body. I probably need a cooler with hand warmers in it to keep moisture from getting in or a camera that is submersible so moisture does not penetrate. The lens fogging I do well at keeping them clear below freezing. 34 degrees and misty is a disaster for the foggy lens syndrome….I know TMI

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, I carry several replacement batteries in my warm pockets when out in the cold. I would need a whole different set-up for winter camping for a week in the wilderness with continuous below zero temps (It’s been awhile since I’ve done that but might again). Batteries and fire do not mix well either. my go pro would do better in the cold for close shots.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Mercy. Yes, Jesus does that. He does a lot of things with our eyes, not only in seeing, what we see, how far we see, how deep, and also where we look. You hit the main thing…focus. Lots of analogies from taking pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Alicia. I love tucking truths in subtly. I hope to hint at or begin to start analogies or truths for those who can take the beginning of a thought and run with it without explanation from me.
    That sounds god and makes me look wise. Somtimes I have god complete thoughts but I’m a borderline scatterbrain and others have to finish my sentences….LOL


  9. Absolutely amazing photographs…hard for me to choose a favorite!!! Great message here! God does color our world in so many ways. When things look pretty bleak, He puts a new spin on life for us.( Also, it is best to work together and not try to go it alone.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda. I just went down to the lake and it is void of all waterfowl. It’s completely froze over. Like in life sometimes change happens very fast. Now I can walk on the lake as 4 ” of overnight ice glazed it like glass.
      Tonight’s spin out there was a nice sunset. …that’s just fun.
      No the go it alone doesn’t really work well does it.


  10. What a beautiful post and pictures, Gary. I appreciate your insights on life. I appreciate the fact that the swans continue to do what they do best, and together or in solo, without seemingly living in fear of the imminent danger. God brings color to my life too Gary. I love watching them take flight, too. Yes, I felt sorry for you 😉 and am thankful you thawed out to continue sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You karla. I decided it was time for my winter chore coat after that. Driving the ATV in the cold is also, well. cold. Time for the mitts as well now that the lake is completely frozen.
      I think those themes are worth contemplating in one’s life. The hard questions of “what have I to fear?” “do I fear needlessly?” have to do with the spiritual strength of heart and circulation where the branch meets the vine. Every “salty” person I have known brings color to those around.
      I am also thankful for your level of insight…keep it up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You so much Steve. I think winter finally arm wrestled fall to the table. Winter snow scenes evoke the most amazing beauty. It’s worth frozen fingers taking the pictures. We will hear the lake ice cracking from expanding tonight as it freezes deeper in our subzero weather. Have a great Thanksgiving.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andy.
      I have not forgotten to report on what the guys are doing in their prayer lives. Two have had tough funerals in the family so we are not on track in our meetings but on track in prayer. The one another’s are a good part of the equation

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wonderful News, Gary. Report when you feel like you are ready. I excited that this has helped so much. I will certainly pass on your report to the Staff At Spurgeon Library. I am sure they would be just as excited to hear your news.

        Liked by 1 person

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