This beautiful record, on fine paper, is Crumley’s homage to these noble creatures, but it is also an elegy, a love song to one swan whose silent tragedy he watched from one season to the next.
‘A small mound on white feathers lies on a tussock of grass made grey by a Highland winter. It is all the monument there will ever be to the life of a swan.’
With these words, and those that follow, Jim Crumley has ensured that there will be a more enduring witness to the life of this swan, and of all swans, than that pyre of white feathers.
Crumley watches, year in year out, as a pair of mute swans struggles, against the odds, to raise young on a wild patch of lock. But the pen starts to lose her eggs to predators; and the cob begins to disappear for longer and longer periods. Until comes the day when a third swan, stronger and younger than the first pen, appears at the other end of the loch.
This journal of a swan-watcher, as he calls himself, is an elegy to these noble creatures; and most poignantly it is a memorial to one swan, whose silent drama he has recorded.