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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sadness Report: Baby the Cygnet...

When I first started this Blog almost a full year ago, one of the first writing assignments or "Reports" as I like to call them, took me to the beautiful neighborhood of Mission Trace. There, I met our Mission Trace Correspondent Sid Seidenberger and fellow resident and official photographer, Al Mozisek. During my first visit to Mission Trace, I was introduced to Baby, a Black Australian Swan or Cygnet, who was not only abandoned by her swan parents, but put in many dangerous situations as a result of their disfavor. I wrote a several reports about Baby and her progress, and in the mean time, Eva and I developed a friendship with our Mission Trace cohorts.

Today, I received the word that poor Baby has perished. I spoke to both of my friends just moments ago, and frankly, I can't possibly describe the loss as well as they have in the following note which they graciously have allowed me to post.


It is with deep regret and a very sad heart that we write this.

There are so many unfortunate circumstances that we face in each of our lives. We are all somehow humanly bonded by the shared experience of a devastating loss of a person or thing quite dear to us. We almost all know that emotional pain that we feel in our hearts, the kind that wrenches us internally.

As many of you also know, there is a strong, almost human, connection between people and their pets. Pets are lovable, pets are playfully entertaining, and pets give their love to us unconditionally. They do not care if we are overweight, or balding, or shabbily dressed, or even have morning breath. Pets love us because they feel the love that we give them. Pets sense this loving loyalty, and it makes them come to us or even behave when they’re naughty. It’s such an endearing, reciprocal feeling. That is the reward and pleasure of a pet.

About a year ago, the pair of Australian black swans in the lake here in Mission Trace hatched a clutch of eggs, but only three hatchlings managed to survive and were taken away to the country so this trio of cygnets could escape their death by predators. Ultimately, only one female cygnet endured, so she was eventually reunited with her parents a few months later here in the Mission Trace lake. Her parents, however, did not accept her; they rejected her and regarded her as an enemy. She was a total stranger to the very parents who produced her. What a sad homecoming!

The rejected one had been named “Baby” during her early days in the country, and on her second day after being returned to the lake here in our city subdivision, she sought refuge from her unloving, aggressive momma and daddy at the back steps to our townhouse.

Just like a squatter, Baby claimed the back of the house as her new-found territory, constantly remained there, and grew from a shaking, shivering, crumple-feathered grey cygnet into a magnificent, majestic black swan. Truly, the ugly duckling transformation took place outside our back windows practically right before our eyes.

Baby was nurtured, Baby was loved, and yes, Baby was held and petted as much as possible because, unlike her aggressive parents, she had been hand-raised and probably, as a veterinarian once told me, felt as if she were part human. In a word, Baby was docile. She wouldn’t even flinch if migratory ducks or other fowl came to eat out of her little “Baby” bowl of hen scratch. She was not a fighter.

Pretty Baby was, in fact, a pampered pet of a fowl.

Little did she know (nor did we before we became so attached to her!) that her existence would become like living at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria, with her daily chopped lettuce luncheons served shortly after her feasting on a hearty bowl offowl-fortifying barley and maize for breakfast.

Each afternoon, Baby was personally escorted to the Mission Trace lake for her leisurely afternoon swim and peaceful, soothing time basking in the sun. (Momma and Daddy took a nap in the afternoon, so this very conveniently permitted Baby to relish her swim time, much the same way as some people savor their television soaps every day after lunch.)

Baby had her routine, and we respected it and accommodated it as best we could.For the last three or four months, Baby had begun taking a nocturnal dip. She would love encircling the fountain in the lake, with her black plumage glistening like diamonds as she was drenched by the beaming moonlight and the gentle spray of the fountain.

Sometimes, when the grain and the lettuce we offered her left her longing for more, she’d sit in the lake chomping down algae with frequent beak dipping sips of water to wash it all down.

Times were available for Baby to enjoy life in the water even though she had to put up with the frustration of her mean, vicious parents. Baby always managed to escape them because she was younger, and she was faster on land than they were.

This past Monday night on St. Patrick’s Day, we looked at Baby taking her usual midnight meandering into the moonlit lake. Little did we know that her hours were numbered.

Tragically, during the night, Baby was dragged and savagely killed by what we assume were coyotes or perhaps raccoons. Beholding the sight of her ravaged, mangled body and the trail of her shiny black feathers she shed in her fight against her foes was a paralyzing discovery this morning. Why, oh why did it have to happen to Baby?

Maybe Baby’s docile nature was her ultimate downfall that probably led to her death. Baby was sweet and gentle, but sadly, in the harsh world of nature, sweet and gentle means vulnerable. That is just bitter and brutal reality of life in the animal kingdom.

For the past fourteen months, Baby brought us love, Baby brought Mission Trace new life to the lake, and quite certainly, Baby stole our hearts.

We truly are devastated by this loss, needless to say.

Who would ever have guessed that an orphaned cygnet would waddle in from the lake to become our cherished pet? I never in my life imagined holding and cuddling a black swan, much less a pet dog!
Australian black swans are by nature very aggressive and even dangerous. They have been known to break a man’s arm with their powerful wings.

But not Baby, not our dear Little Baby! Her untimely death has left us all broken-hearted.

May you rest in peace, Baby. We will all miss you. Never again will we be able to look at the lake without remembering Baby

Final Note

Baby was buried under a massive oak tree by which she strolled every day making her way to the water. She was laid to rest in one of her plastic swim tubs, which she had outgrown as she quickly matured. We somewhat likened it to a baby crib, a kind of water bed… or maybe her own personal pool, which we filled with fresh water each day. Her “coffin” is actually a storage bin …and the lid now respectfully covers her remains as she lies there eternally by the lake.

Mission Trace will be placing a final resting place marker over Baby’s grave. From our back windows, we will be able to see this spot to remember the joy Baby brought everyone in the short time she was here.

Al Mozisek

Sid Seidenberger


February 13, 2007 – March 16, 2008

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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