sometimes you miss something without knowing what it is. You have a nagging feeling. You look. Think. You wonder.
"I think they are gone!" I said to husband.
"Who?" he asked.
Well, swallows are the very epitome of summer. In England and Germany we have the same saying: "One swallow does not make a summer / Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Sommer."
I had seen hordes of them three weeks before - assembling. Practising. Didn't like that. And was accused to resemble poor Cassandra, not my normal self. I soon kept my observations to myself. Talked about sunshine and heat. Peeked only from the corner of my eye. Saw what I saw. Kept my mouth shut. (Pressed it firmly - but only for a while: that encourages wrinkles, so I lifted the corners of my mouth again - pure self-protection).
And there was something missing on Sylt, too.
("Finally", you sigh. "Now you start telling me of your holiday.")
We left the island one day earlier than planned (and paid for).
I have been to Sylt quite often. Met my first real great love there (he was training as combat medic in the Bundeswehr - at that time every young man had to do his military service). My mother and an aunt and my sister spent their hols with me on the campsite (my father had to work). On one photo you see me smoking triumphantly a Reval cigarette - that smell would be the base note of my perfume creation "Sylt". (I don't miss cigarettes anymore - but if someone goes in front of me, smoking Reval or Gauloises or another strong tobacco, my eyes start to get a bit dreamy).
Then I would add the incomparable scent of the rugosa rose. Living happily in a mismatched colour outfit: shocking pink blossoms, fat bright orange rose hips, dark green healthy leaves that smell - like the sweet briars - too. That would be the heart note.
And the salty smell of the North Sea water as top note.
(Of course I would add a few ingredients of passion that no perfumier worth his salt would ever betray...)
And that was what I absolutely missed this time, being there, on the very spot: the smell of Sylt. It wasn't there.
Mind: the rugosa roses bloomed in abundance - and yes, when you bent your knees - and I did - you could sniff a weak whiff. The heather painted the sand dunes of List in sombre violet hues - and yes, I went down on my knees to get a whiff of the dark honey-golden wooden note (I would add that to my perfume!).
But bended knees aside - and I was not on a pilgrimage on "Search of Lost Time" or on the look-out for "Remembrance of Things Past", honestly, I wasn't:
it was almost impossible to smell Sylt. (And I still own a very highly developed sense of smell).
Must be because of the storm (most of the time, throwing teasingly loads of sand into your face). Even husband did only manage to take a swim in the very rough sea once - once in five days...
And because of the location of our rented flat. (I have been many times on Sylt - and it must have had a reason why I never ever had been in Tinnum. (I'd never even heard of it!) I had been in Rantum, Hörnum, Westerland etc - all those villages draped along the shore - meaning sea foam, waves around your feet, salt on your lips, sand between your toes. I even would have accepted mud between my toes - on the mudflat-side of Keitum. But Tinnum lies in the very middle of the island Sylt. See: I love long walks on the beach - it might even storm and rain - but here our fat BMW had to drive us, munching over 300km only on this island in five days. You can imagine that this woman, proud owner of a Nike+FuelBand, was not utterly happy about that? The airport was very near - all things I could have known in advance - had I been as smart as Son, who confessed on the telephone: "I googled it on Google Earth, Mama - but than I didn't say anything because you had already booked." (I think that is mindful of him). So we had the advantage of a Lidl, an Aldi, a Netto very near - and if you walked over the tracks of the railway you were among harvested cornfields. And wet meadows.
Picturesque in its way, too - but to be true: not my expectation when I think of Sylt. Or any other island.
Of course we went by car to the cliffs and sand beaches (how, otherwise, would we have 'earned' 300km?)
But the freedom to move on my own, that I have missed.
And the scent.