The Earthed Lightning of a Flock of Swans

Snow geese at Pungo Lake in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Washington County, N.C. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Snow geese at Pungo Lake in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Washington County, N.C. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

All winter my friend Tom Earnhardt sends me photographs of the birds at Pungo Lake, in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Washington County– tundra swans and snow geese and countless thousands of migratory ducks– green-winged teal, widgeons, pintails, spoonbills and many others.

Pungo Lake has long been one of my favorite parts of the North Carolina coast, but for Tom it means more: the lake seems to draw him like magnetic north pulls a compass needle.

This winter alone he’s made the pilgrimage four times, the last just a few days ago.

Today I just want to share a few of his photographs of Pungo Lake, which Tom has been gracious enough to give me his permission to do.

Sandhill cranes among the tundra swans. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Sandhill cranes among the tundra swans, Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Tom’s photographs remind me of these lines from the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s poem “Postscript”

                                              The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

                                               By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,

                                               Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white….

My daughter Vera knows Seamus Heaney’s poem by heart and I first heard the poem when she recited it.

Northern shovelers (mostly) among the tundra swans. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Northern shovelers (mostly) among the tundra swans, Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Tom’s photographs fill me with gratitude for the music of the place and the beauty of God’s creation.

Tundra swans over Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with is permission.

Tundra swans over Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

They fill me with gratitude for the memory of my own winter sojourns to Pungo Lake, beginning when I was just a boy.

Tundra swans at sunrise, Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

Tundra swans at sunrise, Pungo Lake. Photo by Tom Earnhardt and used with his permission.

They fill me with gratitude for the way that Tom shares this and so many other special places with the rest of us.

* * *

 

To visit more wild and beautiful places with Tom Earnhardt, be sure to check out his award-winning WUNC-TV show, “Exploring North Carolina.”

“Postscript” is copyright © 2019 by Seamus Heaney; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

5 thoughts on “The Earthed Lightning of a Flock of Swans

  1. David, anyone who has witnessed an early morning “blast off” of thousands of snow geese from Pungo Lake as shown in Tom’s first photo, will never forget the experience. I have been fortunate to see it several times at Pungo and at other lakes in the mid-Atlantic and I never get tired of it or cease to be amazed. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonder if that place is where “The Notebook” swan scene was filmed. Maybe there’s other such places.

    Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David… Happy, honored and humbled (The three “Hs”). What a lovely piece with your words and those of Seamus Heaney. My photographs have never been so well accompanied :-). I’ve already had notes from two people referencing your blog today. Thank you! Tom

    Tom Earnhardt earnhardt.exploring@gmail.com 919-614-2910 (mobile)

    >

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.