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Swan upping new year


I usually post a picture of the last light of the year on New Year’s Eve, but there wasn’t much of it today. Instead, I offer you these swans, which I photographed as I walked into town to buy a loaf of bread. (Get me! I’m olde worlde!).

The field across the road is sown in rape (it’s a cinch nobody consulted a PR before naming it “rape”, isn’t it?) and for several weeks, the new crop has been home to a flock of swans. Mute swans. Cygnus olor. Dozens and dozens of them. I don’t know why the farmer doesn’t shoo them off; perhaps foraging swans are protected.

Wild, unmarked mute swans have been the property of the crown since the 12th Century, but Her Maj only claims the ones on the Thames these days. She graciously shares ownership with the Companies of Vintners and Dyers. Once a year, the Queen’s Swan Marker and the Swan Uppers of the Vintners and Dyers dress up in little red suits, climb into six little red skiffs and spend five days rowing the Thames upping swans.

How dost up a swan? Carefully, I prithee! Ho ho ho!

Swan upping: the Worshipful Company of etcetera paddle about on the river, shout “all up!” when they spot a brood of baby swans, circle the boats, lift the cygnets out of the water, weigh them, check them, tag them, count them and let them go again. When this gay party passes Windsor Castle, they stand up in the boats, raise oars, and salute Her Majesty, Queen of the Swans.

Weasel doesn’t make this shit up, you know.

As luck would have it, the bottle of shampoo next up in the booze rotation was my favorite. And it’s kosher! Soon, my beauty. Happy New Year, y’all!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:11 pm


We walked to the end of the drive to watch the fireworks in town. Not very impressive this year, but it’s lovely to hear the church bells. All the little towns around had fireworks, so we were surrounded by rockets. Like being in a warzone. A warzone of niceness.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:19 pm

A warzone of niceness.

Nice imagery, m’lady!

Happy new year!

Comment from armybrat
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:21 pm

happy new year! I walked home from work thru the snow. very nice!

When the hubby and I lived in NY our little house backed up to a wetland. We had a pair of swans stop by in the fall. I never realized what big bastards they are! Beautiful to watch swim.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:30 pm

Happy New Year Weasel! I bought the Parental Units a bottle of Mailly Grand Cru champagne for Christmas. I hope they like it.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:38 pm

Happy New Year, fellow minions…

Must dash – I forgot to up a swan.


Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 31, 2008, 8:56 pm

It’s not the new year for another 5 hours here, so meh.

I SAID, meh.

Comment from mesablue
Time: December 31, 2008, 9:10 pm

Happy New Year!!!

Comment from TimB52
Time: December 31, 2008, 9:20 pm

As long as they don’t start upping Weasels, you’ll be OK. Although it would make for an interesting post, eh?

Happy New Year all!

Comment from Pardes
Time: December 31, 2008, 9:36 pm

I’m so glad that you moved to England….not that I wanted to get rid of you…and not that I favor England over all other countries…although I doubt your blogs would be quite as interesting if you had moved to Poughkeepsie…in other words I’m just glad you are there and we are here to read about it. Thanks.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 31, 2008, 10:07 pm

And I’m glad the Weas is with her Badger at last!

Ok, 4 hours to the New Year now, and I am fixing to go to a party. Time to start getting in the party mood!

Comment from porknbean
Time: January 1, 2009, 12:03 am

10:00 pm here CST and I am in my flannel pjs. Spent the afternoon at the mall with my girl and I am pooped.

Happy New Year weasel and Uncle B and Gibby and Julia and whoever else is UK…….and same to the ‘Merican minions if’n I don’t make it to midnight or your midnight….

Comment from JuliaM
Time: January 1, 2009, 6:17 am

Happy New Year to all!

Comment from JuliaM
Time: January 1, 2009, 8:17 am

“How dost up a swan? Carefully, I prithee! Ho ho ho!”

Meanwhile, over in Japan, they eschew mundane acts like swan upping in favour of the ancient practice of owl bothering…!

Pingback from Happy New Year! « lizard brain
Time: January 1, 2009, 9:17 am

[…] New Year! By lizardbrain Stoaty likes to post “a picture of the last light of the year on New Year’s Eve,” but I’m generally a morning person, so I like to shoot the first light of the new […]

Comment from lizardbrain
Time: January 1, 2009, 9:23 am

Happy New Year!

As usual, I never made it to anywhere near midnite, so I’ll have to take y’all’s word that it is, indeed, a new year.

Wishes for peace and prosperity, etc…

Comment from Gnus
Time: January 1, 2009, 10:08 am

Ball dropping seems to have been big hereabouts this New Year’s Eve. Several news reports this AM. If I had to choose, I’m thinking Swan Upping, or even owl bothering, wins bigtime.

Maybe it’s just me. 🙂

Happy New Year to all.

Comment from naleta
Time: January 1, 2009, 1:22 pm

That owl is amazing! Hard to believe it’s all the same bird. One of these years hubby and I are going to watch the walleye drop in Port Clinton, OH.

As I don’t have mad HTML skillz, here’s a link to what it’s all about:


Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 1, 2009, 5:27 pm

Happy New Year weasel and Uncle B and Gibby and Julia and whoever else is UK

Thanks. You too.

Rapeseed turns whole fields a beautiful yellow (as opposed to an ugly yellow, or ‘custard yellow’) in the summer. If I had a pound for every time a member of my family has exclaimed, ‘Isn’t rape lovely?’…

Comment from Mikey NTH
Time: January 5, 2009, 9:16 pm

Regarding swans, there was one that staked out a lake at Camp Dearborn for a few years. Knowing the temperment of swans (thank you, Mr. Wodehouse) I was content to let it be. The Canada geese were enough to deal with. Lone adults, the geese would bother, but let loose little kids and they were so out of the area (must know someting…)

Regarding owls, once, near noon on a cloudy day, an owl stooped on our truck. Must have had owlets nearby, because even the geese would flee from an F-350 dump pick-up painted ‘City of Dearborn yellow’* (and when geese get airborne they jettison everything).

*yellow with a slight orange tinge to it

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