I am an explorer.
I search for Beauty and the Infinite wherever I am, whenever I can. Along pathways and trails, downtown streets and neighbourhood sidewalks, in woods and fields, beside tracks and streams, at the beach and by the fountain.
And she never fails me.
I find her in small things.
I find her in all things.
When my heart is open and my camera at the ready, Beauty fills me.
And here, as I explored my adopted home town of Vernon, BC, I stumbled upon her. Her grace a white cloud floating on the pond in Polson Park, paddling circles around the concrete Ogopogo, weaving her way through the chaos of mallards.
Months later, I learned her story. She and her mate were a gift to the city. Wings clipped to keep them in the park, where they would be safe.
And yet they were not.
10 years into their stay here, her mate was found one morning. He had been beaten to death by people.
I couldn’t hold back the tears.
I had seen this beautiful swan. I had seen her gracefully interact with people.
People, the very critters who had taken her mate from her years before.
How did she do that? How could she carry such grace and acceptance in her loneliness? How could she live here, in the place of her tragedy, day upon day, with no chance to leave, no way to find a new and happier home?
And she made the best of it. A city park employee took her under his wing. Or did she take him? Ron was considered the swan whisperer, a friend to the swan, whose name, it turns out, was Duchess.
She never failed to enchant me.
In her I could see the elements of Gratitude, fluid and alive. Consistent, gracious, reliable. She inspired me. She invited me to explore the idea of Gratitude in all of her elements. In thankfulness and kindness, in awareness and community. To swim in her river, with the heartbroken swan and the glimmers of sunlight. In the place where pain and joy, sadness and delight mingle brightly and bust open my heart.
Duchess is, to me, the centerpiece for the Gratitude Tarot. Her story as intrinsic a part of my belief in Gratitude as my photos of her. Important enough to adorn the back of each card. Beautiful enough to have 5 cards with her image.
The project was rich, the images chosen, the deck nearly ready, and February was ticking its last days along, when suddenly Duchess was in the news. First injured and treated with the help of her favourite man, Ron, then returned to her beautiful pond. I was fortunate enough to see her, to take a few photos of her on a very cold Monday.
My heart hurt to look at her there in the cold, recovering from injury, no doubt still in pain. And still she was beautiful. And still her grace was breathtaking. And still my camera loved her.
The next day she was gone.
For her inspiration. For her tragic and sweet story. For this Gratitude Tarot that would not be without her.
May she and her mate, finally returned to each other, float together on the silvery waters of Gratitude through infinity.
The limited run first edition Gratitude Tarot is printed and shipping now!
You can have Gratitude in your own hands. Only 100 decks were printed.
Read more about the Gratitude Tarot:
Why Gratitude? Wholeness: Gratitude in 4 Elements
How I will use the Gratitude Tarot to set my intentions and focus my energy. How will you use it?