Hidden within the cattails of a large gray pond, Tess, a Trumpeter Swan, told her two cygnets something special. “Today,” she said, “we shall be artist.”
“Artist?” Jason said in wonder.
“But how?” Jolene asked, swimming closer to hear.
“Follow me,” Tess said. And, with a flap and a flurry of her great white wings, she arched her neck and paddled forward.
From behind the brown bulrushes, they emerged in single file upon the pond; a floating parade of color, brushing their watery canvas with opalescent streaks of pristine white, downy brown and brilliant yellow.
“This is fun,” Jason said, racing ahead of his mother and leaving wakes of silvery threads behind him.
His sister, not to be outdone, circled out, paddling faster to reach him. Pink cherry blossoms fallen from a nearby tree bobbed around her tiny form as her feet churned the water, frothing it to white foam. “I’ll get you,” she sang out.
“This way,” Tess trumpeted over to them. She raised her wings to fly, but instead rose to glide in a graceful ballet across the surface of the pond. Drops of water showered down from her white plumes, shimmering like gold sequins.
“Higher, Mom, higher,” Jason and Jolene shouted in glee. “Higher, we want to see you fly.”
“And I shall,” she called back. “Just watch.” And Tess arched her neck and beat her mighty wings until they sounded like timpani drums over the water. Her wings pressed the wind and she was lifted, magically into the air.
“More, more,” her cygnets chorused as she circled above them in the blue, cloudless sky.
“Mom, we can see you in the pond, it’s like a mirror,” Jolene cried out.
“Come on, let’s follow her,” Jason said. And they scampered over the pond’s surface, playing tag with their mother’s reflection upon the water.
Bursting with life, they swam close to the edge of the pond where they overheard a woman exclaim to another sitting beneath the flowering cherry tree. “Have you ever seen anything more beautiful? The lady exclaimed.
The cygnets looked up to see the lady pointing to their mother; and, as one, they stuck out their downy amber chest with pride. “That’s our mom,” they honked and trumpeted, causing the two women to clap their hands and giggle with delight.
“Isn’t God wonderful to have made such breathtaking creatures?” The woman went on to say. “I’m so blessed to see this. Their very lives are art itself and it has lifted me. I was in such a funk until this very moment.”
“Me, too,” the other admitted. “I love the sound of her babies, too,” she went on. “Our church choir could take some lessons from them.” They broke out in giggles again.
The two women had brought bread and threw torn pieces to the cygnets. Tess circled, watching from above and finally swept down to glide upon the pond’s silvery canvas as if it were ice.
The sun now lowered itself into the far horizon, melting itself into the pond. Its golden hues mixed with the pool of water changing it at once from gray to silver to red to pink and at last to a polished ebony sheen.
With evening came the chorus of night, crickets, frogs, buzz of insects, flip and flop, bump and burp, thresh and thrash and finally gentle quiet.
Tess silently herded her wearied cygnets back to their nest, hidden in the high brown cattails for sleep and safety beneath the twinkling stars.
“When are you going to teach us about art?” Jason said, sleepily.
“Or being artist?” Jolene chimed after him, yawning deeply.
Tess smiled and nestled them warmly within her feathers. “You were artists today, dear ones.”
“We were?” They said in unison.
“Talented, magnificent artist, who added beauty to a sometimes unpleasant world and in the process lifted others from sadness to joy.”
“Like those two women on the bench?” Jolene said,
“Yes, in a way you gave them a peek at heaven itself.”
“Is that what being an artist means?” Jason asked.
“How clever you are, because that is exactly what it means.” She lifted her wings and they swam into the shelter of her arms.
“Shall we be artist again tomorrow?” they asked.
“We shall give back to God what God has given to us.”
“But what if no ones sees?”
“God Sees and God hears and that is enough. Now to sleep while God readies our canvas for a new day.”
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