Following the swallow was supposed to lead her to something peaceful and unaffected. Instead it had led Olive on one goose-chase after another, and now, looking up at the glaring late afternoon sun, she was very close to calling off the entire thing. The swallow in question was not in fact an actual bird, but was a series of painted symbols throughout the city that, if followed, would lead it’s pursuer to a secret beach, untouched by human hands and free from the hordes of tourists that flocked to the island. Few people new of it, and only a few locals had ever found it. Blowing the hair out of her face, Olive heaved herself off the park bench, checked her Mickey Mouse watch for the 30th time in the last half hour and decided to keep moving. Despite only being 14 years old, Olive had the resolution of someone many years her senior.
Checking her last clue, she went back over all the details of the last few hours to make sure she had not missed something. Convinced she had followed all the clues to the letter, Olive could not understand why she was having such difficulty with this final one. Knowing that success was so close and yet was still out of reach only made matters worse. If she didn’t solve the puzzle of the swallows she would never hear the end of it from all of her friends. Why, had she boasted so adamantly?
“Ugh, this is not going to end well,” Olive said to herself. Just then, she remembered something she had missed. Something that seemed so obvious, so basic it almost seemed too easy.
“You’ll find what you seek from the earth and water by rising above all the rest and casting your eyes to the sky.” “Look for my brothers.”
The clue couldn’t be that easy, could it? Olive tossed the idea around in her head, and then decided to act on it, what did she have to lose? Looking around for the highest tree, Olive spotted one that would suit her purposes. Jumping on her bike, she peddled over to the behemoth tree, and upon discarding her bike in a pile at the base of the tree she looked for a foothold. Finding one, she agilely began climbing the tree as high as she could go. Reaching a point near the top that allowed her a panoramic view of the entire island, Olive scanned the sky. In no time, so saw what she was looking for and almost let out a squeal of delight before remembering herself. She did not have far to go, once she was back on solid ground. Almost as soon as her sandaled feet hit the ground she was on her bike and speeding towards her destination.
A ten-minute bike ride, and she was there. She almost couldn’t believe it. She was basically in her family’s backyard. Could this really be it? Just as the seeds of doubt began to take root, Olive glimpsed a painted tail feather that soon revealed itself to be the final swallow, and it was pointing its beak straight ahead, which was odd since all Olive could see was a vine covered wall. Trusting that the feathery guide would not lead her astray, Olive walked up to the walk and outstretched her hand and gently pushed at a spot in the ivy. Giving a little yelp as her hand disappeared into the vegetation, Olive couldn’t suppress the grin on her face as she pulled the vine away to reveal a small entryway and then a path beyond. Slipping through the entry and letting the vine fall back into place, Olive almost ran down the path as the crash of waves upon a hidden shore grew louder and louder.
And then, there it was. Pristine. Beautiful. Waves of turquoise falling upon sands so soft Olive’s feet were instantly out of her sandals and digging deep into it’s coolness. This was heaven. This was it. She had found it. And she had done it all on her own.
Even now, 20 years later, Olive remembered how that first time felt. How proud and content and jubilant she had been. Not much had changed in the 100 or so visits she had made since discovering her own little piece of heaven. Raising her face up to the sun, feeling its warmth Olive looked around and soon spotted her source of enlightenment from so long ago.
There they were, just as they had been all those years ago, and as they would be years from now, swooping, diving, floating on the sea breeze, 30 or more swallows played in the air.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
Ok, so I know this is not my best work. I’m ok with that seeing as writing anything tonight was an accomplishment in and of itself (I spent the entire day in the sun, which if you know me or have seen a picture of my loverly self then you know that my level of paleness combined with an entire 8 hours in the sun is not a good combination and secondly I have a touch of sea-sickness as our ship is moving through some rough winds at the moment). So I hope you cut me some slack and I promise to get my act together for the next one (crossing fingers).
The above story is based upon the following tidbits from my day:
ONE: Today I spent the day in the beautiful island town of Cozumel. I had a wonderful day and thought that a great way to wrap it up was to purchase some sort of keepsake to commemorate the experience. Now, I have an affinity for birds, that is, I like things with birds on them, jewelry, house goods, tea mugs, etc. and I thought what better souvenir than a lovely silver swallow (Cozumel was named cozam huzil by it’s Mayan settlers, which means “land of the swallows”). So guess what no one in the dozens of silver shops had available, or even heard of, for that matter? You guessed it… no swallows senorita, but you like the dolphins?… we have many dolphins. So I decided to find a swallow in my imagination.
Love & Squirrels.