In the summer of 2001, we were on vacation in the Finnish archipelago. Jeremy was experiencing some nasty neck and shoulder pains that summer. Coming out of the sauna one day, as he was twisting his neck from side to side, he saw a swan swim by. He looked at its long neck and knew that this would be our next Dynamis proving.
The next problem was how to obtain a ‘piece of swan’ and which swan to use. In Finland there are two species: the mute swan, which was imported, and is considered aggressive and crude, and the whooper swan, which is the Finnish national bird, and is considered noble, as well as featuring in the ancient Kalevala mythologies. The choice was obvious: we wanted the whooper swan.
I phoned Korkeasaari Zoo to find out if they had any whooper swans and they said they did, a lone swan, which was brought to the zoo in 1994. On the last day of our holiday we visited the zoo. My good friend Rauna Irjala kindly supplied 98% alcohol in a jam jar and, thus equipped, we headed for our mission.
The plan was to ask the staff to help us but the whole place seemed deserted and we couldn’t find the swans. Finally, just before closing time and two hours before our flight was due, we found the swans by an inlet by the sea. The area was enclosed by fences with large warning signs stating clearly: “Do not approach! Swans can be very aggressive.”
I was beginning to have doubts about the whole thing but Rauna wouldn’t have any of it. “Off you go, over the fence,” she said encouragingly. “And then what?” I said in despair. “You get the feather, of course,” came the answer. Quite. She added that, if I were caught, I would probably get away with fines and not be jailed (she’s a lawyer). Thus assured, I climbed over the fence and started walking, very slowly, towards the swan. It was beautiful. It was also huge. The ground was littered with feathers but, for the proving, only a fresh one would do. When I was less than two meters away from the swan, it suddenly started singing and flapping its wings. As it did so, two feathers flew from its wings. I caught them in the air and put them in the jam jar, closed the lid and retreated hastily – with the swan running after me! It came to the fence and started twisting and turning its neck into the most incredible positions. Again it sang and flapped its wings. It looked amazing. I later learned that this is the swan’s courting behaviour. Maybe it had a crush on me!
We sent the feathers to Helios pharmacy and a month later we received the coded bottles. The proving was ready to begin.
Camilla Sherr 2013