Today was an auspicious day. The start of Swans-here. Hearing their distinct honking, we looked up into today’s blue sky and were dazzled by a flock of swans flying in off the bay. There are really only two seasons in the Skagit Valley, the time when the swans are here, known as Swans-here, and the time when the swans are away, called Swans-there. Where? Out there, where you can’t see them. All the other seasons are subsets of these two distinct times.
Around when November begins, the swans start flying in from their summer homes in the far north. If you see them for the first time on November 1, it’s particularly auspicious. They leave in early April and once they are gone, we are in Swans-there. During Swans-there, the whole activity of the valley revolves around preparing for Swans-here, making sure that plenty of crops are grown and harvested so that when the swans arrive, there are acres of good stubble and potato buds for them to savor through the rainy winter. The belief is that if the swans leave satisfied, that year’s crops will be exceptional. If the swans leave discontented, it means we have to try harder. The world would come to an end if they decided not to come back. Then we’d be stuck in Swans-there forever.