The Swan Bonnet by Katherine L. Holmes
Dawn and her mother become involved with suspicious responses to the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. Because Dawn’s grandparents see the swans first, Dawn agrees to secretly watch the migration with the Deputy Sheriff’s son. But after she and her mother encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are also townspeople roving the shore but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?
A time ago in the frontier territory, flocks of migrating swans chuffed to the same ocean inlet and swooped down for a night or two in the spring and in the fall. The far bay was hedged in hardy reeds and fenced off by foothills, providing rest and refreshment. Whistler and trumpeter swans arrived as regularly as the mountain streams melted and the snow came. In the spring, one pair stayed to nest while the others flew on. They were waiting in the fall with their cygnets when the swans from the north stopped to strengthen themselves before their journey over the Pacific Ocean.
A few years after 1900, a man came to the inlet with his wife and boy. He built a cabin even if the pair of swans on the bay flaunted their wings at his sailing skiff. They wouldn’t be properly introduced until the garden was grown and the woman and boy tossed sunflower seeds along the shore. The man fed them corn when he sailed from the inlet to the waters that were full of salmon.
The new family woke up one autumn morning and found the pair of swans hosting a flotilla of migrators that trampled the shore and feasted on the sunflowers. They ate the last of the corn too but in their wake, the woman found swan feathers and down. She gathered up the precious plumage and took it to the nearest town on the Alaska seacoast. That was half a morning’s wagon ride from the cabin under the foothills. Merchant ships came to the harbor for salmon and fur. The swan feathers sold like caviar.
As more folks moved to Alaska, the family at the bay couldn’t help but notice how the migrating flocks were dwindling.
Towards 1920, fewer and fewer of the trumpeter swans made rest stops at the inlet. But whistlers still came after nesting in the tundra.
About the author --
After stints in publishing and as a reporter, Katherine L. Holmes obtained an M. A. in Writing from the University of Minnesota. Her poems and short stories have been published in many journals. In 2012, her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, was published by Hollywood Books International. She has also published a children’s fantasy, The House in Windward Leaves.