Thursday, May 28, 2009


The last week has had it's sweet moments and it's sad moments. I was not the only person anxiously waiting for the swan eggs to hatch. There are several other people that are lurking around the nests waiting for the first crack to show. One, an older gentleman, has become a Bekannter (acquaintance) of mine. We try to piece together my poor German and his rudimentary English to make swan talk. He's retired so he's been spending almost every waking moment there - camera in hand. While I was somewhere shoving another Bratwurst down my gullet, he was there capturing every small detail of the first hatchlings. And hatch they did.

I arrived on Monday to learn that one of the mothers had four new baby cygnets. Her last egg is still left to hatch. It's was hard to get any pictures since the babes spend most of their time under the mother's wings but I managed a few.

And now the sad part. The other Swan Mother had just two eggs. Now she has just one. Apparently, yesterday some teenage boys were showing off, being stupid or whatnot and decided it would be fun to try and steal the eggs. They got one of the eggs and when people nearby tried to persuade them to put the egg back, the teen's response was, "here, you put it back." And then he rolled the egg on the ground like a bowling ball. Of course, it smashed.

When I heard this, I started to cry. I was so upset that I had to call Thomas at work. I've done that only once since I've been here. The news hit me so hard. It was just such a cruel, senseless thing to do. The egg couldn't have been more than a week away from hatching. That mother has sat there day and night, through all kinds of weather, only to have someone destroy her family. For no reason. I feel like they should find the kids and arrest them. But they bolted and my swan friend thinks they'll never find them. They better hope he doesn't recognized them around the lake because he was as mad/sad about it as a parent protecting a child. Here's the mother with her lone egg. It still breaks my heart.

UPDATE: The egg of the second swan never hatched although she sat on it for a good three weeks after it should have hatched. Finally the man I call the Swan Professor (he visits them every day, knows everything about them, names them and basically just loves and cares for them) had to remove the egg so she could get on with her life. Heartbreaking.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Family in Town.

We've had our first family visitors. Hopefully, not our last. My brother Neal, his wife Angela and the cutest baby in the world, Bennett, spent the week with us. We did it all:

Englischer Garten with a stop at Chinesischer Turm
Hanging by the lake
Kloster Andechs
Nymphenburg Palace

Whew! We did a lot. With a baby. Did I mention that he is the cutest baby in the world?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Spring is in full force on our little Lake Fasanerie. Mother ducks have already started to hatch their broods and the swans are busy building nests and laying eggs. I saw the first nest on Monday tucked up right along the shore line. The mother was sitting proudly, the father patrolling the surrounding water. Across the lake, another swan couple was canvassing the shoreline. Sure enough, by Wednesday they’d claimed their stake and were busy decorating their new nest with sticks, twigs and grass.

Besides the joy that comes with seeing nature work its miracle, the swan nests have provided an added health benefit for me. I’m more eager to get out there and exercise because I’ve become so emotionally invested in the swans and their eggs. I play games with myself. Yesterday I decided to do as many loops as it would take for one of the swans to get off her nest so I could get an updated egg count. It took me five laps (just over 6 miles) before one of the lovely ladies hauled tail and went for a little dip in the water.

Apparently, swans lay anywhere from 3-10 eggs usually separated by two days in between. My last count has one nest at 2 eggs and the other at 5. The gestation period averages between 35-40 days. So, come June, we’ll have at least seven small, sweet swans swimming around. How’s that for alliteration?

I’m personally hoping for at least nine cygnets so I can name each one after the Fellowship of the Nine.When I was an early teen and well into Lord of the Rings, reading and rereading it obsessively, a stray cat that we'd christened Gray Lady had a batch of kittens under our back porch. As I recall, it was nine kittens but a lot of what I recall is not 100% historically accurate. Shocking, I know. However, the number of nine does make for a better story so let's just go with nine, shall we? Good. I immediately declared myself Namer of all things Kitten. Fuzzy little Frodo, Gandalf the Gray (he took after his mother), Aragorn... My little sister had another idea entirely. At the time, she was reading the Big Book of Bible Stories and she thought the kittens should all have biblical names. Ruth. Rachel. Abraham. I mean really, if it comes down to Abraham or Aragorn what cat would you want covering your back?

I don't think Gray Lady and her offspring stuck around long enough for the issue to ever get resolved. It's been a gaping hole in my childhood development ever since. So come on swan moms - keep a laying and give a girl a little Legolas!

Update: as of this morning we are up to eight eggs. Thanks Moms! And Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


We went for a hike today in Spitzingsee. Thomas and Steffen battled out the best way to navigate. Thomas using the positively prehistoric hand-held map. Steffen using a high-tech, hand-held GPS. So, you just know that we spent half the hike off the actual trail. Don't you just love testosterone?


When we reached the top of the mountain, we discovered a Search & Rescue team practicing dropping rescuers on a nearby cliff face. So cool. I, of course, would have liked to have been airlifted to safety when I was huffing and puffing my way up the mountain. But, as usual, I was ill-prepared finding myself without a bullhorn, red flag or emergency flares. Next time.