by Volha Kavalenkava © 2016
Swans on the Minnewater, part of the network of canals in the town of Brugge (Bruges) in West Flanders, Belgium.
Many swans are migratory, although mute swans (shown here; they’re also Britain’s most common swan) are migratory only between northern European latitudes and North Africa. Populations in more temperate parts of Europe are resident all year round.
Minnewater is often translated as “Lake of Love”, and a few legends have grown up to explain the name. The most popular one is a tale of doomed love between a poor man named Stromberg and a nobleman’s daughter called Minna. Minna ran away from home rather than go through with a marriage her father had arranged to a wealthy suitor. Stromberg found her dead by the edge of a lake and buried her at the bottom of the lake to keep her love in the waters for ever.
The real origin’s much more prosaic – in mediæval Dutch, the word minne meant “love”, but it also meant “common” (in the sense of “held in common”). So the Minnewater was a stretch of water to which all had access.