April 20, 2002

Penquins 1

Spring arrived at the Seacoast while I was gone. I went to Gorham, New Hampshire, for two days and when I returned the world was newly green. I think that it was just waiting for me to leave. I am not sure how, but somehow, it all revolves around me. Of that I am sure.

In the Spring a young man’s fancy turns to … SEX. It probably is something else, but whatever the poet said was just another lie. And what is a “fancy” anyway? And it is not just young men. Include in there old men, medium men, well done men – all of them.

And it is not just men. I have been following closely a pair of swans in my neighborhood. They flew into the pond before the ice broke up completely. I was amazed at how they would move around the pond in complete unison. Then the old mama swan got stuck in the weeds. At least she looked stuck. But I remembered the story about the birds, the bees and the swans. Yes, mama must be sitting on her eggs. I am sure that soon we will see little swanlings, just like last summer.

In the meantime, dad swan is having a wonderful time. He likes to hang out at the far end of the pond, putting as much distance between him and mama as he can. And when she starts honking at him, he does what any reasonable male would do. He sticks his head underwater so that he cannot hear. It is a cross-species skill.

But not all male species are so reasonable. I am really concerned about the male emperor penguins. One of the cable stations did an expose (my word) on how the females treat the males down there on Antartica. In the Fall, they do the usual mating thing and the female lays the egg. Then she does the hand off – she passes it to the male and takes off for the winter. She goes to Miami Beach or somewhere. He and all his buddies are left standing there, huddled together, for the entire winter, with no food, no tv, in incredible cold, in the dark, just taking care of this egg. He can’t even go swimming to get a snack.

Why does he do this? Male bonding just is not that good. He does all of this just to get some peace and quiet away from those females. Well, maybe it has something to do with his “fancy” too.

This appears to be a severe form of evolution. The male swan is more highly evolved and just sticks his head in the water. Men go ice fishing, hunting and riding around in trucks – until Spring, when a young man’s fancy … well, you know.