Date: April 15, 2011

Time: 1:00 p.m. GMT

Location: St. James Park, London

Let me just begin by saying that while swans are theoretically lovely creatures, I do not care for them in practice (the reason for which I’ll explain later). The same cannot be said for my oldest child who found them to be utterly magical. Why am I talking about swans, when clearly this photograph does not contain a swan? Because while this was our first glimpse of the London Eye as we headed away from the mid-day mayhem of Buckingham Palace, I couldn’t draw his attention away from the swans to appreciate it. Not even for a moment. I had to physically restrain him from following said swans into the pond that you see above. He clicked away with his own camera with a near-religious ferocity as he photographed the creatures hundreds of times over.

Me: “Danny, back up – that one looks very grouchy.”

Danny: “They are SO BEAUTIFUL! <click click click> Mom, you are MISSING THIS!” <click click click>

Me: “I see them. I also HEAR them, and that one sounds like it’s growling at you. Get BACK here.”

I think Danny could have stayed on the bank of that pond for hours, crouching quietly at water’s edge, taking 7,098 pictures of those things. I, as his mother, foresaw his nose being broken by a moody male swan who decided to defend his turf at the expense of my child’s face. Having been harassed and attacked by these things while in boats, on rivers throughout the UK, I feel I can speak with some authority on this subject. One should stay VERY far away from swans.

I finally picked Danny up (no easy feat, as he’s already a few inches shy of my shoulder) and pointed his head in the direction of the Eye. Only then did the swans fade from his view and the beauty of the scene before him truly sink in. As we walked on toward the Thames, I told Danny I could feel the beady black eyes of the swans following our every move, which he of course found hilarious.

St. James Park recently made the news as a skeleton was just discovered there, with cause of death listed as “uncertain.”

I blame the swans.