I decided at breakfast this morning that I would make a pilgrimage to see the renowned white owls that give the island its name. I dug out some comfortable shoes, my sunhat and sunnies; made sure I had my walnut shell in my pocket, and set off.
I wandered towards the village and asked a few people for directions. One young lady gave me a white feather. ‘Just tune-in to this,’ she said, ‘and you can’t go wrong. When you’re pointing in the right direction, it will vibrate slightly.’ I took it from her. ‘Now, face that way,’ she said, pointing …………. Feel it?’ There was a very mild buzzing sensation in my fingers. I smiled, ‘Yes, I can! Thank you so much.’ After that I found my way quite easily.
I wandered through the village and made my way along a cobblestone path which rose gently as it left the dwellings behind. As I progressed, the path got gradually steeper and the stones became larger in size. It was becoming quite an ordeal, and I was getting thirsty. I’d no sooner had the thought about a drink when I heard water tinkling, and was quite glad I’d been to the loo before I left. There’s nothing like running water to set you off!!
I headed towards the sound and found a beautiful little rock pool full of crystal-clear, sparkling water. The water was entering the pool from the beak of an owl that had been carved into a rock. An inscription had been engraved into the rocks edging the pool, too. It read: Seekers of Wisdom must first drink from the fount of knowledge, and all shall be revealed. Hmm, I found that quite intriguing and I was also very thirsty so I cupped my hands and drank deep. Nothing! Nothing happened, so I sat there for a few minutes and took in the view. I could see the ship at the dock and all the people looked like ants.
I took one last look at the pool before getting up and was amazed to see that the water had turned the colour of ink and was perfectly still. ‘Magic!’ I thought, ‘how can you have still water with a fountain?’ I gazed into its depths and gazing back at me were the faces of three women. The foremost one spoke, ‘We are the guardians of the owls. What is your purpose?’
‘As a visitor to the island, I would like to see the magnificent birds that give it its name, and pay my respects.’
‘Look deep into my eyes,’ she said, ‘that I may see into your soul.’
So I did as I was told and she said, ‘Yes, your intentions are true, and your search for knowledge is endless. You may continue on your quest.’ Then the faces disappeared and it was just a rock pool again. I picked up my feather and turned around until it vibrated, then set off in that direction.
At the top of the next rise I looked down into a small valley. There were a few flowering shrubs and one very large tree covered in white blossoms. My feather seemed to be dancing in my fingers, so I headed into the valley. As I got closer to the tree I could see that the blooms were not blooms at all, but white owls. Hundreds of them, in various sizes.
In front of the tree was a large, flat rock and I sat myself down on it to study the tree and the owls. Three of the largest owls swooped down and stood before me. The middle one spoke, in a very upper-crust, haughty voice. (Under normal circumstances I would have found this rather disturbing, but I’ve decided to accept whatever this cruise has to offer).
‘Greetings, and welcome to our Parliament.’
‘Oh, is that what it is?’
‘Certainly! What did you think it was?’
‘No, no! You’re confusing us with rooks. Rooks are nasty, black, noisy birds, not pristine like our goodselves. No, this is a Parliament of Owls and I am the Prime Owlister. My name is Sage. My assistants here,’ he said, pointing with his wing at the other two, ‘are Sagacious and Perspicacity. Why are you here?’
‘I don’t really know, except that I have always been a seeker of wisdom and, as the owl has always represented wisdom, I thought I would like to pay you homage.’
‘We know there have always been owls in your life – not live ones like us, but always images and ornaments, since you were small.’
‘Yes. My father believed that having an owl in the house encouraged wisdom and learning. We always had one on the mantlepiece.’
‘A very wise man, indeed!’
‘Yes, he was.’
‘Is there something you want from us?’
‘No. I just wanted to see you for myself, and express my appreciation of your powers in the bestowing of wisdom.’
‘Well, thank you for taking the time to seek us out. Go now, in peace and knowledge.’
‘Thank you. I will leave this special feather in your keeping.’ I placed it on the rock; bowed low to the trio, and started on my journey back to the ship. It’s funny how the journey home always seems much quicker than the one out. I seemed to be back in the village in no time at all.
When I reached the village I was dragged by the nostrils, and the smell of food, into a small cafe, where I dined royally on local seafood and a bottle of sparkling wine. I hadn’t realised how hungry I was. I chatted to the villagers as I ate my meal. Everyone I’ve met has been so cheerful and kind. I’m sure there will be another adventure waiting for me tomorrow.