The Trumpeters

Since my last post, the Stillaguamish flood has begun receding. I’m proud of the way our community worked together to keep water out of Stanwood. Hundreds of students and adults responded when the call went out for volunteer sandbaggers. People are busy cleaning up damaged homes and businesses. After two nights of camping at the high school, Josephine Sunset Home residents are back in their own beds.

I keep remembering a few moments in the midst of the windstorm that followed the flooding. The winds churned the ocean of flood water into waves. Normally, those flooded fields provide grazing grounds for wintering swans from Alaska, both the magnificent trumpeters and the smaller tundra swans. We frequently see them flying from one field to another, often a mated pair accompanied by their family.

I watched a couple of flocks fly close to the bluff, battling north where they’d find open fields. You can’t mistake the trumpeters in flight. They lay those long necks out straight on the air ahead of them, feet tucked into their big bodies, powerful wings beating a slow and undulating rhythm. Unlike the skeins of snow geese, whose gabbling passage is punctuated with excited honks and mutterings, the trumpeters’ flight is regal and silent.

I braced myself against increasing gusts as a line of five swans, wings spreading to seven feet, flew from the south. Wing tip to wing tip, they advanced into the wind, the leader slightly ahead, his mate and children on either side. Although the wind pushed them sideways, they continued to advance, strong wings beating in perfect unison, necks stretched to the north. They passed soundlessly over my head, so close I could see the streaking of damp feathers along their necks and bodies, the shadings in their wings.

The wind carried them eastward, but they persisted. North was where they knew they’d find drier fields and good grazing. Even if the wind blew them off course, it couldn’t prevent them from trying to reach their goal.

I thought about all the people who’d wakened that morning with tasks planned for the day, and who’d found that nature had other plans. I thought about how often the storms of life interfere with the goals I set for myself.

I want to be like the trumpeter swans. I want to just keep going, adapting with God’s help to changing circumstances. He can be trusted to bring my flight to a good conclusion.

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