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IRELAND - Swan VS Seagull

These are swans, or if one is referring to a lot of swans, it's called a bevy.

When I was a child my parents would ask me where milk came from and I’d say ‘The grocery store.” I also thought that a horse was a “Daddy cow” and a dog was a “Daddy cat.” This embarrassed my father greatly since he was raised on a farm in West Virginia. He subsequently spent hours with me, trying to teach me all of the animals on my Fisher Price See-N-Say. Now the See-N-Say consisted mostly of farm animals. There were no exotic creatures such as sloths, peacocks, dolphins and koalas. With that said, it should come to no surprise that five years ago, when I was at the very ripe age of 39, while visiting Dublin, I made a very, very, HUGE, comical mistake.

Just a little south of Trinity College, there is a park called St. Stephen’s Green. A beautiful old stone bridge traverses a lake, which contains wildlife – children, storks, and “swans.” When I visited St. Stephens Green in April 2013, it was cold, dark and damp. Regardless, I was smitten because to me, this was the most romantic spot I had ever seen. Standing on the bridge, I watched the beautiful white birds swimming in the lake for what seemed like an eternity. I found myself daydreaming of kissing the man of my dreams on the bridge among the cacophonous chatter of Irish brogues. I suppose that I have the movie Leap Year to blame for scrambling my memories of the bridge in Dublin’s fair city. It was on St. Stephen’s Green Bridge where Declan opens up to Anna about the girl who stole his heart and his mother’s Claddagh ring running off to the city of chancers and cheats. He doesn’t kiss Anna on the bridge, but let me tell you, all of us girls watching the film, want him to. A supporting element, not to be overlooked in the scene, are the swans swimming under the bridge. The same swans I remember from my trip in 2013.
St Stephen's Green Bridge. A romantic spot featured in the movie, Leap Year. I took this photo in 2013.

Fortunately for me, I was able to return to this picturesque location this week, with the man of my dreams by my side. I recommended that he join me for feeding the swans under the St. Stephen’s Green Bridge.  He graciously agreed, taking my hand and looking at me with his signature tilted grin and half-moon eyes, some might call that a smile. It wasn’t long before he commented that the sky rats must have chased off the beautiful swans I had been droning on and on about. I insisted that there were swans when I was in the park in 2013. He had his doubts. Easily I was opening my mobile to reveal my lock screen, the St. Stephen’s Green photo I captured, with the swans back in 2013. “OH SHIT! WTF!!! THOSE AREN’T SWANS!” I shouted. The beautiful white birds in my photos were indeed Seagulls, the very fat, duck-sized, over-fed, park-dwelling nuisances that poop on old Irish statues throughout the city.
These are seagulls. I took this picture last week, July 2018. You can see the similarities, right?

My mistaken identity now poses an issue for my recently released book, Cursing Django. You see, Eoghan takes Inertia to St. Stephen’s Green to “Feed the swans.” Now, this could be a funny element to an Irish girl reading my story – the stupid American girl who doesn’t know the difference between a seagull or a swan. However, I think it will make for a fantastic prologue to book three; Inertia peruses her Ireland photos, to the moment on St. Stephen’s Green Bridge when she gets a snog from Eoghan. Too blinded by her love goggles, she mistakes seagulls for swans and doesn’t realize it, until she sees the proof in her recently developed photo. Better, yet, when she confronts Eoghan, he admits that they were Irish swans and that everyone in Dublin knows that an Irish swan is a seagull. 

That’s my story and I am sticking with it. Below is the passage from Cursing Django. Cheers!

     Inertia and Eoghan didn’t waste the beautiful seventy-degree day. They took the scenic route to St. Stephen’s Green along the grounds of Dublin castle. The forsythia was in bloom, birds were chirping, and without warning, Inertia felt Eoghan take her hand in his and lead her to the bridge that overlooked the park on the west side of the city. As they crossed, Inertia fell victim to her overactive imagination. Would Eoghan ask her to stay longer, beg her, even? Perhaps he would make plans to visit her in America? She kept her silence as her mind planned the most romantic embrace and kiss on the middle of the bridge overlooking the lake—home to the mallard ducks, the swans, and the croaking frogs that were becoming louder and more rhythmic the closer they got to the most perfect view in all of Dublin.
    “So, I promised ya we’d feed the swans.” Eoghan pulled his hand out of his pocket to reveal a few pellets he had acquired while Inertia took more than twenty pictures of the bridge from the ducks’ perspective.
    “Pellets?” Inertia laughed.
    “Yeah, what’s wrong with that?” Eoghan was befuddled.
    “Reminds me of going to Pet-A-Pet Farm when I was in grade school.” Inertia stopped and thought about the field trip that had taken her class out of West Virginia for three days to visit the nation’s capital. “I went there on a field trip in the first grade. Wow, I haven’t thought about that for a long time, but it’s a really funny story.”
     Eoghan brushed some loose strands of hair away from Inertia’s face. “Tell me about it.”
She was affected by the way he was looking at her, and she temporarily forgot about her nostalgic tale. She looked at the ground and then back up at the view of the lake. She took a deep sniff of the wet soil and flowers, avoiding eye contact. Inertia was desperate to make connections with people, but she had a habit of thwarting them before they began. She feared this was about to happen with Eoghan.
    “Is everything OK?” he asked.
    “Yeah. Why?” She stared at Eoghan’s face. Was he really a good guy? Maybe he was too old for her? These questions immediately put up an invisible wall. “I was just thinking.”
    “About what?” Eoghan moved closer to Inertia. She could smell the cigarette smoke odor on his jacket. He noticed her flinch. “What?”
    “Your jacket reeks of smoke.” She couldn’t stop herself from putting her hand up to her nose, but then her hands smelled like some sort of rubber. Her expression turned pouty. She looked away.
Eoghan took off his jacket and let it fall to the ground. “Is that better?”
Inertia laughed. “Yea, maybe.”
    “So tell me your funny story.” By force of habit, Eoghan began to reach for a cigarette, but chose not to.
    “I was five years old and in the first grade. We had a new teacher who worked really hard to get us to improve our American history testing scores. She promised if we improved by twenty percent that she would take us to Washington to see all of the artifacts of historic moments we had worked so hard to learn. It was the first time that I had ever left my house overnight.” Inertia chuckled as she reminisced.
    “You never had a sleepover?” Eoghan cocked his head. “I recall Aggie always going to friends’ houses and staying over.”
    “No. I didn’t have many friends. Remember in my story, I was the weird little Hanks girl with two mothers?” Inertia brushed her hair away from her face and proceeded with her story. “The trip was for three days and two nights. We took a bus from our school, leaving way before daylight. I was like a zombie. I was insisting on wearing my pajamas, but Betty Anne made me get dressed—in a dress even, no jeans. Getting to D.C. takes about three hours, a long time for a bus full of kids who are barely potty trained. So by the time the bus pulled up at the D.C. Mall, we were ready to play.
    “Our first stop was the National Museum of American History, but none of us wanted to go there.” Inertia watched a group of kids playing with a frisbee by the lake and was distracted for a moment.
    “Why’s that?” Eoghan asked.
    “Well, we walked past this giant brass triceratops dinosaur, and our teacher explained that we were in front of the National Museum of Natural History where they keep the dinosaur bones. Naturally, dinosaur bones are more exciting than a burned-up American flag and a bunch of fancy dresses.” Inertia waited for a chuckle from Eoghan. “We reluctantly entered the American History Museum, and inside we saw a pendulum, a giant burnt flag, and a big amount of nothing as far as we were concerned. Our teacher brought us to a hall of presidents exhibit and to look at the first ladies’ inauguration gowns. Do you know what this was like for a bunch of six-year-olds?”
    “I can only imagine that it wasn’t fun.”
    “It was like shopping. And several of the little boys in the class were so insistent on not going through the exhibit that they held onto water fountains, security stations, and anything else they could grab onto in order not to go in. I liked it, though. And I liked being able to see some of the displays of TV performers’ items and the real functioning ice-cream parlor.” Inertia licked her lips. “Nowadays, more things seem to cater to kids, but then we were expected to act like little adults.”
    “Did you get to see the dinosaur bones?” asked Eoghan.
    “No! We went to the White House.” Inertia cleared her throat. “That’s when things got interesting.”
    “Yes. I was almost decapitated by a Secret Service agent.” Inertia covered her face.
    “What?” Eoghan put on a silly expression.
    “I stuck my head in between the iron bar fencing and then couldn’t get my head out,” Inertia explained.
    “That’s pretty feckin’ funny.” Eoghan continued to laugh.
    “That’s not the best part. So, the Secret Service men came running when they saw this happen. One of them got to me pretty quickly, and after examining my dilemma, commented that he was going to have to cut my head off to get me out. Naturally, I freaked out and started crying, because I was freaking out and crying, it was hard for them to release me, so guess what?”
    “Homeland Security showed up?”
    “This was a few years before 9-11. The fire trucks, news reporters, and police showed up.” Inertia still felt embarrassed by the situation.
    “How did they get you out?” Eoghan tried to simulate twisting a head to release it from a tight space.
   “Someone, I don’t know who, held me from the back, while a cop turned my head just the right way. It was super quick. AND a super amount of attention for something so small. They wanted to interview me for the news, but because my mother wasn’t there, they wouldn’t be able to use the footage.”
   “What does this have to do with feeding ducks?” Eoghan teased.
    “On our way home, we went to Pet-A-Pet farm and fed ducks. For most kids, it would have been a great adventure, but for a group of country kids, it was a rather sleep-inducing visit. The most exciting part was actually buying the pellets from a converted gumball machine. Did I mention that the lake was about the size of a large trampoline? Yea, exciting stuff.” Inertia stopped talking.
   “From decapitation to ducks.” Eoghan touched Inertia’s cheek and gazed into her eyes. Before Inertia could say, think, or do anything else, he gently kissed her lips.

The exotic Dublin Swan.


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