At 4:00 AM it is 4 degrees below zero. I'm having a discussion with myself about going out, about strength of mind and the spirit to carry through. It's not the weather that is bothering me so much, it's that I'm about to go kayaking in it. What's even more disconcerting is that to reach the place that I want to be at by sunrise I need to leave and paddle in the dark.

Before long I'm at the river's edge. I push off from the ice shelf and float into the stream. Time and I flow down the river and eventually by the faint light of the sickle moon I can see the river widen and the outline of an island ahead. I'm very close to where I want to be when the sun comes up. The water slows down, the surface is starting to ice over.

I've come to photograph Trumpeter Swans that are wintering on the open water. They are the largest waterfowl in the world, and one of the rarest birds. My timing has been good and in the predawn light I photograph passing swans. I pan with the birds in flight, making motion blurs - images that sing the praise of feathers in flight.

When the sun comes up it reveals a world of peace, the landscape asleep under a blanket of snow.

Geese float through the rising mist,

and then rise above the floating ice.

With more light I can freeze every feather in flight.

But my favorite scene of the day is actually of Mute Swans. Something about the white-on-white, silver miror water, grace of the swans and quiet of the moment all speak of peace to me. I'm glad that I persevered.

I hope that this season brings peace and beauty of spirit and action to your life.

Charles St. Charles