Sunday, July 05, 2009

Torimolinos dove

SATURDAY June 20, 2009:

I lie sprawled on my back in the Toremolinos hotel Garden. The tufted grass is rough against my thinly clad thighs. Stretching out under the cool shade of the straw awning, I allow my body to relax.

Normally, at this stage of my journey to La Alpujarra, I am fraught and exhausted. Something weird happens to people in airports! They access the most un-resourceful and selfish of states. It soon becomes very clear that they seem me as a problem!

This time, I decide that I would go in hopefulness and trust and see what happens. I make an effort not to engage with anxiety.

"When did I lose my sense of trust and adventure?” I muse to myself, my inquiring fingers teasing out the thick blades of grass. Between the ages of 19 and 22, I had no qualms in going off all over Europe each summer. I had all I need on my back; I knew where I was meant to be going and how I would get there. I didn’t engage with problems, I simply trusted that it would be fine – and in general it usually was.

Sure, there were times when I landed up somewhere and whoever was meant to meet me had not turned up. Kind older men would offer me dinner which I would accept and a night in a comfortable hotel, which I would not. Even being taken into protective custody by the local police somewhere in the far east of Holland only slightly dented my equilibrium. In the end, everything always turned out fine.

Sometime in my early twenties I lost the art of travelling solo. I had a partner, or friends, or PAS instead. Always, there was someone to take care of everything for me. I just had to be and do and arrive.

In June 2000, I decided to go on holiday by myself to a place I’d never been, to be with people I did not know. It was unfortunate that the day I chose to do this, the air traffic control computers failed! Cutting a long story short, I arrived alone at 1 am in the morning in a strange airport, with only a faint idea of where I was meant to be going. A glimmer of that old trust was back, I allowed myself to go with the flow and everything was fine, just fine.

I listen to the buzzing of flies. One is gently caressing my bare arm. I flick it away lazily. My companions are chatting about this and that, the "who are you?" of humans newly met. Behind their well-modulated politeness, children shriek as they cast themselves with a certain amount of splashing abandon into the nearby pool.

And then I hear it. the gentle, serious, "Droo-droo-droo" of a collar dove. I allow its soft song to stroke me gently as I relax further. And then I remember, today is the first day of pigeon, according to the Almanac of Blackbird Owl!

“My feet hurt" I murmur under my breath, reminding myself of just how to tell what kind of dove is behind the cooing.

"Ah, the sound of summer” I murmur to myself and listen in my mind to the thwack of leather on willow, the distant chugging of an old fashioned train,
the humming of bees and the feel of grass against naked arms, its sweet green smell wafting through the air under the cool shade of the wide branched tree. ubiquitous, definitely imitable and singable; from the gentle dove to his more rambunctious feral neighbour the London pigeon, I welcome to my life these dear birds. hail pigeon, hail.


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