海外生活徵文:東方天鵝湖

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1996 / 10月

文‧中國大陸 馮杰



「嘎嘎、嘎、嘎嘎……」,氛圍在柴可夫斯基優美的旋律中,芭蕾舞演員用特有的「雕塑之美」,塑造出一群湖邊嬉戲的白天鵝。天鵝的高貴美麗,王子的堅貞愛情,以及最終擊敗魔法師的不朽愛情故事,曾影響了一代又一代的人,這,就是蜚聲中外的「天鵝湖」舞曲。

東方天鵝湖,座落在山東省榮成市境內。這裡四季分明,不凍不淤,溫度適宜。每年怳@月份至翌年四月份,上萬隻白天鵝,紛紛而來,翩翩而去,成為東方乃至世界最大的天鵝越冬棲息地。

放眼天鵝湖

懷有美的心境,隆冬一到,我便信步來到天鵝湖畔,一睹天鵝丰采。站在水邊,放眼望去,但見數千隻天鵝千姿百態,喧叫非常,一派勃勃生機。映照在蔚藍色的湖面上,天鵝一簇簇、一片片,雪白耀眼,煞是好看。近處,一大群天鵝在退潮的湖底上,尋尋覓覓,補充淡水,褐色沼澤處,留下分明的亮點;湖中,眾多的天鵝優游嬉戲,有規律的集群,形成錯落有致的線條。空濛之中,成為依稀可辨的色塊。在由白色天鵝構成的三層景致中,尚有數萬隻海鷗凌空翱翔,上下翻飛;上萬隻大雁,橫排豎列,穿插其中;間或雙雙並列的鴛鴦,嘎嘎陣陣的野鴨,連世間難覓的丹頂鶴,也在露出的灘上一展優美的儀態。

接近天鵝

夜宿南岸的馬山賓館,沉靜星稀,佇立窗前,偶爾聽見湖中「嘎咕」、「嘎咕」的叫聲。凌晨五時,披著夜幕,我悄悄來到湖區,試圖接近天鵝。

東方微紅的時辰,長短不一的鳴叫聲,漸次多起來,隱約可見數百米外的沙灘上,醒來的天鵝,有的洗面喙絨,有的引頸漫步,還有的伸直脖子,慢騰騰地伸懶腰。朝陽升起,湖面如血,愈來愈清脆、愈來愈高昂、愈來愈密集的「嘎咕」聲劃破了湖面,「卜楞楞」的振翅聲此起彼落。當我靠近鵝群約一百米的距離,靈異的哨兵飛起報警,「呼啦啦」群群天鵝略振而起,出現「朝霞剪出飛鵝影」的美景。

我一次次試圖接近天鵝,近了、更近,二百米、一百米,直至四怞怐熄Z離,這,大概便是「我」與天鵝距離的極限。一位業餘觀測天鵝抩l年的老者告訴我,四怞怴A這是他所掌握的最理想的「人、物」距離。

「不能更近嗎?」我問。「可以,但,需要時間。」這位老者的解釋,使我明白了距離的內涵。

曾經,射殺天鵝,是當地民眾滿足直接生存需要的行為,民謠有:「老雁老雁,掉鍋吃麵,老蒼老蒼,掉鍋喝湯」。儘管野蠻,卻也無奈。到七怞~代末,整個天鵝湖區的天鵝只有七怳趕式C改革開放以後,群眾開始意識到保護野生動物的重要意義,從「天敵」逐漸轉變為天鵝的「衛士」。這四怞怐熄Z離,便是昔日獵食者在天鵝傳播過程中留下的印記。「距離,成為人類文明程度的尺度。」這位國家鳥類環志中心觀察員說。

天鵝之父

在天鵝湖,我有幸結識兩位人物。一位是上面提到的業餘觀察員李明傳;另一位則是成山衛鎮黨委書記兼天鵝湖經濟技術研發區管委會主任王保華。他們特殊的奉獻,被當地人親切地稱為「天鵝之父」。

今年五怳K歲的李明傳,原是當地中學的地理教師,在幾怞~的教學生涯中,他將業餘時間全部用在保護天鵝上。在學校,他發動同學成立了「天鵝保護小組」,講解環境保護的意義,增強同學們的野生動物保護意識。

在社會上,李明傳利用一切機會,向群眾宣講國家公布的保護野生動物的有關政策,教育民眾自覺地保護天鵝,保護生態環境,並相繼與中國地理學會、中國野生動物保護協會,以及國家鳥類環志中心建立了聯繫。

同時,李明傳堅持常年觀測,一有時間,便跑到湖區,觀察研究天鵝的棲息情況,掌握了第一手材料,做了大量的筆記,成了遠近聞名的「天鵝專家」。周圍群眾凡撿到受傷的天鵝,都會自動地送到李明傳處,醫治後再放飛湖區。來自德國的瑪麗德小姐親切地稱其為「天鵝的爸爸」。

如果說,李明傳是保護天鵝的首倡者,那麼,王保華,則是提升天鵝湖知名度繼而開發天鵝湖區的第一人。

一九九一年,當三怳風釭漱保華走馬上任成山衛鎮黨委書記時,他首先認識到天鵝湖這塊處女開發地的價值,率先提出天鵝湖開發區的構想。這一構想在一九九三年被山東省人民政府批准,成為省級經濟開發區。

為開發天鵝湖的資源,壯大鎮級經濟,一方面,王保華利用新聞媒體,大造輿論,全力提高天鵝湖的知名度;另一方面公布了一系列保護天鵝湖區的措施,進一步美化天鵝湖區的環境,舉資九千六百萬人民幣興建湖區基礎設施,為推動天鵝湖儘快進入中國旅遊市場奠定基礎。到目前為止,區內的中外企業已達怳輒B,國內外幾怑茬璁鴞b開發區投資興建了渡假村、療養院、環形商貿城和旅遊館所。

湖心「艷遇」

駐足天鵝湖,彷彿置身於童話般的世界。幕合四野,夜空傳來聲聲鳴叫,令人心曠神怡。清晨,天鵝公主們又會把你從夢中輕輕喚醒,相伴沐浴在金色的陽光下,開始新的一天。

沿湖倘徉,在沼澤中、在距離中產生新的想法。翌日,在王書記的安排下,我乘上一艘看海船,從湖外海灣繞過百米寬的大沙灘,進入「天鵝王國」。

「噠噠噠」的馬達聲,劃破了湖面的寧靜,機動船在如鏡的湖面上,蕩出陣陣波漣。船老大曲師父地說,這是抴X年來他第一次有機會進入天鵝湖。

天鵝湖水質清澈,湖底的水草、藻類清晰可見,時而順勢一撈,足有半尺長的大海參。老曲樂呵呵地說:「這是馬山養參隊養殖的海參,嘿,一年能撈起百萬元哩。」

除了溫度適宜、湖區未被污染等條件外,天鵝湖底豐富的藻類,為天鵝提供了充足的食源,也是天鵝湖形成的一大原因。湖面上,無數的天鵝一字排開,將長脖子伸進不深的湖底,去啄食藻根,豐肥的鵝身浮在水面,留出一個個圓圓的亮點。

小船緩緩跟在鵝群後面慢行,天鵝們慢游;快行,天鵝們也快游,始終與我們保持六怞怚炙k的距離。待到加大馬力,靠近三怞怴A驚起的鵝群「卜楞楞」跳起來,快速踩著水花,飄竄而去。同時,飛騰的力度,激起萬朵浪花,「啪啪啪」的擊水聲,響成一片,霎那間,湖面沸騰了「啊啊」聲由近及遠,由彼及此,蕩漾在湖面上,交織出動人的交響曲。湮波浩渺的湖面上,擊水的,飛竄的、騰起的、升空的、盤旋的、孤行的,在遠處湖面降落的天鵝,紛紛若若,一時間銀鵝飛舞,蔽日遮天,蔚為壯觀。

返回的水路上,我們意外的發現湖中有一隻孤鵝在鳴叫、在撲騰、在原地打轉,激起了幾尺高的浪花。我用望遠鏡頭發現,天鵝像似被什麼東西咬住,在絕望地哀鳴,發出「菏菏」的長音。「靠近牠」,老曲把船頭調準,快速駛去。「嘩嘩」,天鵝的大翅膀猛勁地,仍在原地打旋。眼瞅著我們過來,天鵝似乎無望地伸長脖子,平展在湖面上。我用力抱起牠,居然發現天鵝的腳蹼被養殖繩上吊著的大魚鉤牢牢勾住,殷紅的血汨汨滴在水面上,我迅速騰出雙手,小心拔出魚鉤,不料倒刺的魚鉤已深深插進肉蹼中,犀利的鉤尖把我的食指也劃破了,受傷的天鵝也拚命撲騰,濺起一身湖水。我們只好掏出刀子將繩子割斷,老曲則加大馬力,載著白天鵝趕回港灣。

上岸後,成山漁業公司迅速派出專車,將我們送往李明傳老師處,取出魚鉤,敷藥包紮。為便於觀察和休養,我把受傷的天鵝帶回了賓館。

天鵝很傲然,冷漠地注視著一切,毫不喧鬧,但常「嗤嗤」地示威,我姑且稱之為「冷公主」。每天我都要為「冷公主」洗浴幾番,當「嘩嘩」的淋浴水噴到天鵝身上時,牠展翅、縮頭、回喙、抖水,一副遐意的神態。之後,便讓「冷公主」游在浴缸中。

服務小姐為「冷公主」送來蔬菜、送來海鮮、送來水餃,但牠仍是一副傲視群芳的模樣,不吃也不喝。

「冷公主」對人世間的所有物質,都顯出陌生,浴室中的大面鏡對牠尤有吸引力。每次推門進去,牠不是看我,而是注視著鏡中的「自己」,可能想念同伴吧!

「冷公主」的個體約有怳迨膜蝑哄A身高一米有餘,脖長五怳膜嚏A比一般家鵝大出一倍。天鵝的羽毛是世界上名貴的絨毛,極具保暖性,能保護著天鵝生存在攝氏零到怮蛌漣C冷環境中。天鵝的進食和飲水每天都在一公斤左右,牠的肉質異常鮮美,由是才會出現「癩蛤蟆想吃天鵝肉」的諺語吧!

三天後,當「冷公主」傷勢痊癒時,我們決定放飛。

這是一個寒冷的早晨,踏著晨光,我和兩位「天鵝之父」走進湖區的沼澤地裡。不遠處,一大群上岸覓水的白天鵝在晃動。「冷公主」見到同伴,在李明傳懷中發出「嘎嘎」的歡叫,在距離鵝群七抩l米的地方,我們將天鵝放下,「飛吧」,「冷公主」竟然停頓不走。「飛吧、飛吧」,像是有一種感應,「冷公主」開始向前起跑,然後拐彎朝我們衝來「嘩啦嘩啦」的展翅聲,在臨近數米的距離,昂首起飛,發出「給給」的歡叫,劃出一個優美的弧線,飛向鵝群。凝視著沒入同伴中的「冷公主」,轉瞬間即難以分辨;遠處,曉霞漸湧,我們彷彿聽見了柴可夫斯基的交響樂,優美的樂音中,翩翩飛起的天鵝,奔向曙光。

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騰飛的天鵝。

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「天鵝之父」李明傳,經常教育孩子們要保護天鵝。

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保護天鵝的「天鵝小姐」們。

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瞧這一家子。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

The Swan Lake of the Orient

Text and photos by Feng Jie /tr. by Jonathan Barnard


"Ta-ta, ta, ta-ta. . . ." With the mood set by Tchaikovsky's beautiful melodies, ballet dancers show a special "sculptured beauty"-turning into a flock of white swans playing at the edge of a lake. This immortal love story, which tells of swans' noble beauty, the unwavering love of a prince, and the eventual defeat of an evil wizard, has moved one generation after another. This Swan Lake is well known both in the West and in China.

The Swan Lake of the East is found at Rongcheng in China's Shandong Province. There, the four seasons are distinct, but in winter the lake's clear waters don't freeze and the temperature is just right for swans. And so every year from November to the following April, more than 10,000 white swans descend upon this place, making it the largest wintering spot for swans in the Orient, or for that matter anywhere in the world.

Beholding Swan Lake

With the first cold spell, I went to the shores of Swan Lake in an aesthetic frame of mind, to view beautiful scenes of swans. Standing on the shore of the lake, which is actually an inlet of the sea, and casting my eyes across the water, I could see thousands of swans doing hundreds of different things, their noisy cries pulsating in vigorous waves. The swans were scattered in flocks and bunches across the azure surface of the lake. The dazzling snow white of their feathers was pleasing to behold. In the foreground a large flock of swans was poking around on the lake bottom near shore, which had been exposed by the receding tide. They were looking for fresh water, and their white bodies stood out in bright contrast to the dun-colored marsh. Out on the lake, a multitude of swans, grouped in clear lines, were frolicking. Up above, amid the grey, misty emptiness, the birds were the only discernable flecks of color. Amid this triple-layered scene of swans at the lake, there were also thousands of sea gulls swooping and diving overhead, wild geese flying in orderly formation, mandarin ducks swimming in pairs, wild ducks quacking, and even rare red-crowned cranes prancing elegantly on the beach.

Approaching the swans

In the night I retired to the Mashan Guest House on the lake's southern shore. Standing at the window, with stars flickering above, I could make out an occasional call of a bird from the lake. At 5:00 the next morning, under the cover of darkness, I quietly made my way to the lake shore and tried to approach the swans.

With the eastern horizon just starting to redden, the birds were making increasingly numerous calls of various lengths. On the beach of several hundred meters I could make out the vague figures of awakening swans: some were washing their faces and preening their feathers; others, taking short steps, were extending their necks and puffing out their chests. As the morning sun rose, the lake surface turned blood red, while the swans' calls, ever higher pitched and grouped together, echoed out across the lake. Here and there you could hear the beat of their wings as they took to flight. When I was about 100 meters from them, a particularly sensitive swan took off and gave a warning call. Group after group took to the sky, and there before me was the beautiful sight of swans silhouetted against the morning clouds.

I tried again and again to approach the swans; I got near and then nearer-200 meters, 100 meters, and then as close as 40 meters. That was probably as close as I could hope to get. One elderly bird watcher, with more than 10 years of experience observing swans, said that 40 meters was the ideal distance.

"You can't get any closer?"

"You can, but it takes time." The old man's explanation gave me insight into the meaning of distance. Originally people hunted swans and geese for sustenance so that they themselves could live. A Chinese folk song runs, "Old goose, old goose, throw it in the pot with noodles; old swan, old swan throw it in the pot and make some soup." It may have been barbaric behavior, but people had no choice. By the late 1970s there were only 76 swans at Swan Lake. After reforms on the mainland, people began to grow conscious of the importance of protecting wildlife, and turned from being swans' arch enemies to being their guardians. The 40-meter distance is a legacy of the era when men would hunt swans.

"This distance is a measure of the level of human civilization," said an observer from a mainland China national bird center.

The fathers of swans

At Swan Lake I had the good fortune to meet two extraordinary persons: The first was the bird watcher mentioned above, Li Mingchuan, and the other was Wang Baohua, the party secretary for Cheng-shanwei Township and the director of the Swan Lake Economic and Technical Research and Development Committee. For their special contributions, they are affectionately known as the "fathers of swans."

The 58-year-old Li Mingchuan was originally a junior high-school geography teacher. During his decades of teaching, he spent his leisure time doing work to protect the swans. At school, he inspired students to create a "Swan Protection Group" and explained the meaning of environmental protection work to make them more conscious of the need to protect wildlife.

In society Li uses every opportunity to publicize national wildlife protection policies, and to educate people to protect swans and the ecology. He has close ties to the China Geographic Society, the China Wildlife Protection Association and national bird centers.

Li Mingchuan has also been steadfast in performing his long-term observations, and whenever he has time, he goes to lakes to record data for his research on swan wintering areas. These have filled notebook upon notebook. Far and wide he is known as a swan expert. Whenever people from the area find injured swans, they take them to Li, who treats them and lets them go. A German woman who is an acquaintance of his describes him with great passion as "the father of swans."

If Li is the chief advocate for protecting swans, then Wang Baohua has played the leading role in raising people's knowledge about Swan Lake and in developing the Swan Lake District.

In 1991, Wang Baohua, then 35, had just taken the post of party secretary for Chengshanwei Township. He recognized the value of this completely undeveloped stretch of land around Swan Lake, and first proposed the idea of a Swan Lake District. The idea was approved by the Shandong provincial government in 1993, when it was designated a provincial-level economic development zone.

In order to develop the resources of Swan Lake and thus strengthen the township's economy, Wang on the one hand used the news media to get people talking about the lake-thus making it famous-and on the other hand announced a series of measures aimed at protecting the lake and beautifying the environment. RMB 9.6 million was allotted to establish basic facilities, thus making the lake a tourist destination. Up to the present, more than 16 companies, Chinese and foreign, are in the area, and some ten firms have invested in building facilities in the development district, such as vacation villages, sanitariums, a circular trade center and hotels.

An encounter with beauty

Coming to Swan Lake is like arriving in a fairy-tale land. As night falls, the birds' calls echoing across the sky delight their human listeners. Early in the morning, the swan princesses pull you from your dreams with their soft calls. Bathed in the yellow light of the sun, a new day begins.

Lingering in the wetlands and looking at the swans in the distance, I had an idea. The next day, Party Secretary Wang arranged for me to board a boat. From the bay beyond the lake, we sailed around a sand bar a hundred meters wide to enter "the kingdom of the swans." The rumble of the motor disturbed the quiet, and the boat's wake rippled the lake's formerly placid surface. Mr. Qu, the boat's skipper, said that it was the first time in more than a decade that he had a chance to enter Swan Lake.

The lake's water was very clear, providing good views of the seaweed and algae growing on its bottom. From time to time we could see sea cucumbers. Old Qu pulled one out of the water that was easily a half meter in length. "This sea cucumber was cultivated by the Mashan Sea Cucumber Cultivation Team," he said laughing. "They harvest a million RMB of them a year."

Apart from being drawn to the suitable temperatures and the pristine, unpolluted waters of the lake, the swans also come here for the algae at the bottom of the lake. Providing the swans with ample nutrition, the algae are one reason this inlet became Swan Lake. On that day countless swans were on the lake in their orderly lines, stretching their necks under the surface in the shallow waters to gulp down the algae. Floating on the surface of the water, each plump swan formed a round white spot.

As the small boat approached the swans slowly from behind, the swans glided slowly away. As the boat picked up speed, so did the swans-maintaining a distance of about 60 meters between us and them. Then, suddenly cranking up the engine, we came to within nearly 30 meters, and the startled swans jumped out of the water, kicking up spray and darting out of our way. Beating their wings with great force to rise out of the water, they brought up a lot of spray, and their flapping and thumping could be heard near and far across the lake, weaving a tapestry of sound across the misty surface of the water. Some of the swans were beating the water with their wings, others taking flight, others flying in formation through the sky, others hovering, others flying solo. On the surface of the lake in the distance they descended one after another. For one instant the silver swans flying and dancing had covered the sun; it was quite magnificent.

Turning around to go back, we discovered a lone swan in the middle of the lake, turning itself around and around and raising up spray several meters high while trying to lift off. Looking through binoculars I discovered that the swan seemed to be pinned down by something. She was making long and desperate calls. To approach the bird, Old Mr. Qu turned the bow of the ship and quickly made for her. "Thump, thump" her big wings flapped vigorously, as she kept spinning around at the same spot. Seeing us coming, the swan made a seemingly helpless gesture of sticking out her neck to lie out flat on the surface of the water. Grabbing the bird, I discovered that the webbing of her foot had been pierced by a hook caught in a rope used by the local aquaculturists. The swan's blood was turning the water around her red. I quickly tried to pull out the fish hook with my hands, but the hook was too deeply caught in the flesh, and I ended up cutting my own index finger instead. All the while, the injured bird was splashing and struggling to fly away, drenching us with lake water. Finally we had no choice but to pull out a knife and cut the rope. Mr. Qu turned up the motor and we sped back with the bird to the harbor in the bay.

Ashore, the Chengshan Fishing Company quickly dispatched a vehicle to bring us to Li Mingchuan's place. He took out the fish hook, applied medicine and wrapped the wound. So that I could more conveniently observe her recovery, I took the injured swan back to the hotel with me.

The swan had a proud air and viewed everything with cool detachment. She hardly caused any fuss, but often made a clicking sound to convey her authority. I named her the "Ice Princess." Every day, I'd give the Ice Princess a couple of baths, and when the water from the shower head sprayed across her body, she would spread her wings, bring in her head, turn her beak and shake off the water, all with the most leisurely of attitudes. Then I'd let the Ice Princess float in the tub.

The women on the hotel staff would bring vegetables, sea food and even dumplings for the Ice Princess to eat. But with an "I'm the fairest in the land" self-assurance and disdain for the lot of us, she didn't touch her food.

The Ice Princess viewed all things of the human world as strange, and was particularly attracted to the big mirror in the bathroom. Every time we went into the bathroom, the bird ignored me and gazed only at her reflection. Perhaps she missed companionship!

The Ice Princess weighed about 15 kilos and was more than a meter tall. Her neck was 50 centimeters long, about twice as long as common domesticated geese. Swan and goose down is the dearest and most famous kind of bird feathers, known as an excellent insulator. It keeps swans warm to temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius. Every day swans consume about 1 kilo of food and water. Their meat is extraordinarily tasty, a fact that has given rise to a Chinese expression about lecherous oglers of beautiful women: "The toad wants to eat the swan's flesh."

Three days later, when the Ice Princess' wound had healed, we decided to release her.

In the early morning light of a cold winter's day, I entered the marshes of the lake district with the two "fathers of swans." Not far away a flock of swans were swaying, searching for fresh water. When the Ice Princess saw them, she began to make greeting calls while still in Li Mingchuan's arms. About 70 meters from the flock, we put her down: "Fly!" But the Ice Princess didn't budge. "Fly! Go on, fly!" The Ice Princess seemed to have gotten a sense of what was going on, and she started to run forward. Then she turned around and charged back at us, taking to flight only a few meters away while issuing a greeting call: "gei gei." Her flight made an elegant line through the sky as she headed for the others. When she joined the flock, it became hard for us to tell which one she was. Then, against the brightening clouds in the distance, the flock flew

off toward the light and we could almost hear strains of Tchaikovsky's beautiful music.

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Swans take to flight.

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Li Mingchuan, champion of swans, often teaches children the importance of protecting them.

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The "Swan Women," defenders of swans.

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Behold this happy, waddling family!

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