~ For my grandchildren: Mila, Louis, Arlo and Holly…
One day at the very end of winter, when the crisp air is powdered softly with the coconut golden scent of wattle, a mother swan makes a beautiful nest among water reeds near a grassy park. She lays six perfect eggs and she sits on them for a long time.
At the very start of blossomy Spring – bundles of pale grey fluff cheep and stir under her glossy black feathers.
Her babies have arrived…
Father Swan sails up from the wetlands after a day or two because it is time for the babies to plop out of their snug nest and learn to swim.
“Come on…you can do it!”
In they all go except for one tiny, scaredy cygnet who just doesn’t want to leave the soft warmth of his mother’s frilly feathers and the comforting smell of the cosy nest.
Mother and Father Swan take their new family out on a little adventure. Off they paddle through chilly water and a garden of tall reeds.
It is fun but also dangerous because the lake is full of creatures that like to eat newly hatched cygnets. Mother and Father Swan keep a sharp eye out for water rats and purple swamp hens…
“Go away!” Mother Swan hisses at a sneaky swamp hen lurking in the reeds.
Father Swan takes the braver cygnets out further from the nest…
…and Mother Swan counts her babies over and over again to make sure they are all there.
Scaredy Cygnet watches from the nest.
“Come back, Mum!”
Mother Swan climbs back into the nest and cuddles her scared baby.
The other cygnets dabble and splash close by …
Scaredy Cygnet snuggles up to Mother Swan…
“Don’t worry. You can learn to paddle tomorrow,” says Mother Swan.
Tomorrow arrives bright and early and the nest is empty.
Scaredy Cygnet has paddled off into the big lake with the rest of his family.
© Anita Patel, 2016