Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Stratford Swans - What a Lovely Fuss!

When I read about the Stratford Swans Annual Parade from their winter quarters to the Avon River, I immediately thought, What Fun! So, of course I had to attend. It was a drizzly dull day and I didn’t think there would be many in attendance. I was wrong.

The street next to the arena was lined with people of all ages, hiding under umbrellas or cloaked in rain wear. Somehow I managed to squeeze to the front of the crowd, an advantage of being incredibly short, emphathetic individuals usually make way for me.

“What a fuss over some bloody birds!” A man behind me with a northern English accent exclaimed.
“Dad, please it’s just a bit of fun. I thought you liked bag pipes.”
“My God, such bother!”

The woman sighed and I glanced back sympathetically as my mother had made a similar complaint when I suggested she accompany me.
“I can’t stand the sound of bagpipes.” This was news to me. My 84 year old mother, who was born in England yet raised in Scotland, surrounded by the lilting sounds, never had mentioned this before, so I’m not sure when this opinion took hold of her.
For me, The Stratford Swans being Bag Piped into the River was the most comical, yet beautiful sight I’ve ever witnessed at a public event. I found myself laughing aloud, yet with a surprising emotional lump in my throat.
The mystical Pied Pipers look serious and stern but lets face it, you can’t smile when you're puffing your cheeks and blowing all your wind into a small tube, all efforts consumed by creating a rare supernatural sound.

Yes! There is much fuss made over some lovely birds, but the heart-warming sight of the well-behaved swans waddling in confusion behind a kilted procession of Highlanders, all anxious for their long awaited wade, I think should be right up there with the Running of The Bulls.  Of course, I know, I know, not nearly so dangerous a gathering, yet similiar that the Bull event was originally a process of moving the beasts from the farm to the market.  The Swans, moving to the river provided a stimulating sense of man moving nature's creatures alongside the manmade mystic music of ancient Scotland and I have classified it as motivational. All in all a sensation that reminded me, how great it is to be alive and by the surrounding chuckles and ahh sounds from the hundreds of participants giving rapt attention to the odd sight, it was obvious they felt something too!

Now that I’ve experienced and got all emotional about this parade, I will mark it down in permanent marker on all my future calendars. I would not miss this event in a million years! What more can be said in that the streets were lined, even with the odd grumpy complainer, dancing children donning swan hats, during a drizzly wet Sunday, and you can see by my photographs I could hardly get a decent shot because of the huge crowd.

After the Swans passed by I was then swept up by the stampeding mob desparate to get a glimpse of their first immersion into the river of 2012.
The swans, now road weary, the journey completed, just dreaming for a fancy-free paddle, there was a collective sigh, as their tired, feathered, awkward bodies plunged, now gracefully into the cool water accelarating fast away from the encroaching crowd.
What more can I say? It was magic!

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