Yesterday late morning I was walking along the Bassin de la Villette thinking about the word “Epiphany,” wondering how it relates to us now. When I was almost home, I came across a puzzling scene. Between the trees on the sandy gravel beside the canal, a big swan was huddling with its head under its wing and a fashionable bald gentleman in black was standing nearby, worriedly talking to someone on the phone about it.
I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what was going on and between agitated phone conversations, he started telling me the story. At 6:30 am he was walking his dogs and noticed the swan. He dropped off the dogs and came back to see two larger swans scrambling out of the canal. They began flapping their wings and trying to push this one back into the water. It wouldn’t go and curled up on the ground again. At first the man thought they were fighting but realized something was wrong and started trying to get help. He walked to the canal authority building a few minutes away and was told they couldn’t do anything but he could call the fire department… That’s what he was doing when I arrived. The fire department told him they’d sent someone earlier who reported there was no emergency but the man could call the national vet school in the south suburbs and take the swan there himself. I looked at the swan and couldn’t imagine myself trying to pick it up, much less schlepping it to the vet school hours away… On the metro? In a taxi? Not an option. Another woman walked up. She’d seen the whole thing from her window and called the Swan Protection Association. They said they didn’t have the means to send help and that we shouldn’t get too close because it could break someone’s arm with its beak… Long story short, we all started making phone calls. The fire department agreed to send a contingent to check the scene until the special animal unit could get there. Meanwhile, several of us stood at a safe distance so dog owners would keep their pets away…Two more firemen pulled up in a red van. They put on heavy gloves and expertly examined the mysterious victim, then carried it gingerly to a containment cage in the van and drove it off to the vet school:
IIt felt strange to mobilize 8 firemen for a wild bird, but we were all grateful they came. With sighs of relief, everyone said thank you and goodbye, hoping the vet school could do something.
Late this morning, the parent swans were there again, watching and waiting on the water. To be continued….