Laetitia always felt a sense of anticipation when she neared the Emerald Victorian each morning. She had come to believe that when she walked through the front door, she was entering a place where serendipity was the rule rather than the exception. There was always the packet of coffee beans, often from some exotic place. Then there was the library. Today on the table next to the overstuffed chair where she usually worked was a book and a CD. She put the CD into the player and pressed the start button. It was Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the ballet about the thwarted romance of Prince Siegfried and Odette, the Swan Queen. She settled back in the chair as the strains of music wafted over her and picked up the book. It was a slim illustrated volume of poems by William Butler Yeats, including his sonnet, Leda and the Swan. The poem tells the story of the seduction of Leda—the mother of Helen of Troy—by Zeus, in the guise of a swan. As Laetitia reached the last line of verse, she noticed that a half hour had passed and she needed to plan the day’s tour.
Laetitia decided she and her group would drive the 203-kilometer (143 mile) distance south from The Pas to Swan River, Manitoba. The latter town was named for its river and nearby Swan Lake and the trumpeter swans often seen there. A giant swan statue graces one of Swan River’s roadsides.
The gossip at the local bar where Laetitia went for her late afternoon libation was about a local lothario who went off to college in Toronto and spent most of his short academic career going to parties. Inspired by lectures on mythology in a humanities class, he planned to seduce a coed named Leda at a Halloween costume party dressed as a swan. His fantasy was that, as Zeus, he would be irresistible. The flaw in his plan was that the costume he bought on eBay had no zipper in front. The gossip inspired Laetitia’s limerick for the day.
When a local Swan River Don Juan
Tried to woo Leda dressed as a swan
His plan went awry
For his suit had no fly
And he couldn’t succeed with it on.