By Kay Koenig
Come leap with me my little son. Come, jump high and see the land above our watery world. See the bright warm sun. See the fringe of green around the edge of this calm bay. See the dozens of frolicking whales. Then descend back below the waves and listen to their song. Can you hear the sweet notes saying, “Come dance with me my pretty girl. Come soar and jump and glide”. And then there are the deep notes and they warn “Go away you brash young whale, this girl is mine, go away and sing your songs elsewhere. You are not wanted here“. Last year I heard these songs and they were sung for me. Last year I answered their call and your life began.
Come now; rest on the current, drink your fill of milk. Get big and strong and I will tell you about last year when you were conceived.
The year began far south of here, near a land of ice and snow. The rich feeding grounds that every year nourish thousands of whales, and provide them with the food that will sustain them for the winter elsewhere. I was finally an adult and during this season I would be courted. Even in the feeding grounds; the feeding grounds far south in the sea fringed with ice, I was excited; excited with anticipation of the journey to come. Full of joy and energy I swam backwards and forwards through the thick soup of krill; through the seas choked with the fish and other ocean treats our pod had corralled with their fence of bubbles. I gulped down mouthful after mouth full of food, anxious to cloak myself with a thick coat of blubber. This season I needed more than enough for my winter journey northward. But the seas were bountiful, and, by the time the ice encroached and the temperature dropped beyond what was comfortable even for a whale, I was fat and round and ready for adventure.
It was time to turn northward and for the annual migration of the Humpbacks to begin. I too left the frozen continent with its rich feeding grounds. While many began their journey with a leisurely swim, I turned on my back and, with flippers to the side, soured forward, jet propelled. After the initial burst of energy, I rested content to lie in the water and gently glide forward. It was then that my first companion arrived. At first he swam beside me but with some distance between us. Then he began to sweep close to me, circling, flippers stretched out like a giant bird. Now above, now below, never far away. Slowly the distance between us reduced. When he swept past me, he brushed his body against mine, first this side then the other; gently caressing my flanks as we advanced.
Soon we were joined by two younger bulls. Each attempted to emulate my older companion. He did not welcome their attention and began flapping the water vigorously with his tail. Not deterred the young bulls countered with tail flapping, then with breaching. They climbed high and higher out of the water. High above me they crisscrossed my body as they breached. And all the time they circled and caressed my flanks. The persistent older whale was always close by; gentle, comforting, arousing. Never really leaving me alone, his attempts to discourage my younger suitors and his courtship together created an all encompassing dance. The younger bulls darted in and out, rubbing their bodies against mine at one moment then breaching high above me the next. All around the whales sang sweetly ‘’ come to me my beautiful girl, come and we shall swim as one.’’ Then gruffly they demanded, ‘’go away this one is mine.’’
My whole body tingled, I no longer wished to swim alone, I longer to be joined, but with which one. I had to choose.
We were almost at the breeding grounds when I finally turned towards the older bull. Leaning towards him; pressing myself against him as he swam beside me. Maybe I was not aware of my younger lovers or maybe they sensed that this was a hopeless case, but no longer were there persistent whales around me, no longer did the whale songs beg. Now there were just we two gliding through a warm sea, riding a north flowing current. Then he gently grabbed me with his fins, stroking me as we swam. Slowly he glided along my body until our bellies touched. And we swam and dived in great arcing circle our throbbing bodies glued together. All too soon we parted, floating on a bed of bubbles, separated, sated and exhausted.
I mated with many other whales last season but by then you were a tiny living being inside me. Your father was my first love and you are my first child. So drink deeply my son. Get strong and flex your muscles. For soon you will join me on the great migration south to our winter feeding grounds. I will teach you all I know. Next year I will leave you and once again be wooed and loved.