Bruges is replete with Swans! The only swans I remember in my life were a pair in the smallish pond on my kindergarten grounds which was an 1800’s Connecticut estate’s picturesque garden house. Once in awhile at recess we were allowed to scamper down and look at the swans, a big treat for kindergarteners. I always pressed my face to the car window to spy them when we drove by on Garden Street, appropriately named. This sister is thrilled with all the swans in Bruges

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. As the story goes……. in the 14th century, the Bruggelings revolted against Emperor Maximilian of Austria and imprisoned him and his unpopular advisor Pieter Lanckhals ( Longneck!). Pieter was executed but the Emperor escaped. The Emperor upon his return to Austria exacted his revenge and decreed that the town of Bruges “until the end of time” would keep swans in the lakes and canals of the city (at their expense I might add). The swans sleep when it is dark and awake at first light. I am intimately acquainted as on my bread run after Lauds to the local bakery, the swans are sleeping and if the sun has risen, they are awake upon my return ready to start their very routine swims to one end of the canal for breakfast fishing and by lunch having arrived at a cul de sac at the other end of the Minnewater. I see them from the canal bridge on my stroll home after Flemish class.

Spring is of course brooding time. One swan pair is building a nest by the trash can where the horse and carriages station themselves for the tourists. It is hardly a secluded spot! When I passed today, a clatch of tourists was peering at the pair most obviously feathering the nest as we say in English. The swans seemed noticeably undisturbed by the tourists’ interest. What amazed me is the town had quickly noticed the swans nesting and built a special fence to protect this pair from any unkind children or tourists. Emperor Maximilian would have been extremely delighted with the town of Bruges and His legacy!


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