Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Doverodde Diary: Day 10 - The Wild Swans

Swans make a wheezing sound as they fly, and for years I thought this came from their beaks, because with their necks stretched out ahead of them they seem to be straining to breathe. Now I realise it is the sound of their wings beating against the air.

There’s a Hans Christian Andersen tale in which a wicked queen turns her eleven stepsons into swans. To restore them to human form, their sister must knit shirts of nettles to throw over their backs. While she knits she cannot speak a word. When the time comes to rescue them, she has still to finish the sleeve of the final shirt, so the youngest prince keeps his swan’s wing. There are at least eleven swans on the lake at Doverkil but I can’t find any nettles. And I have no desire to silence the swans' wings.

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