Slowly traipsing around the house to wake up, brewing coffee, cradling a warm cup between my palms I move over to the front window. Looking out across the river Charente, I contemplate the quiet Christmas village under the arch and notice five white animals.
The dog soon disappears, while the swans continue to drift lazily in the current.
When suddenly the peace is shattered.
Propelled by rhythmic strokes the knife-edged bow of a racing shell stirs the drowsy birds.
As the athletes become aware of the feathered obstructions they slow their forward motion and gently glide by the agitated youngsters, which make a beeline for the river bank as soon as the boat has passed.
The swans stay close to the bank for a while, resting after the unsettling encounter. They wade in the shallow water, nibble a little and groom themselves, all the while softly chatting with each other in gurgly chirps.
And a cormorant came by for breakfast too.
The swans (Cygnus olor) and cormorants (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) we so often see on the river are wild residents of the La Palu wetlands which the city maintains as a nature preserve and to provide an overflow area during high water conditions.