A kite tale

Swallow-tailed kite Estero Marsh Preserve

Early in January, I met with a social acquaintance who is a realtor to talk about a relocation within my current county. There is one primary reason to do it in general, but lots of smaller reasons for moving to the particular area we targeted. We met at a Starbucks in the target area. I presented my simple “list of demands”, which she felt could be met in the current market, or at least the majority thereof.  We both knew that while it is still an awesome market for buyers, prices ARE rising, so if I was going to do it, best to do it sooner rather than later. My realtor said that she would add my name and email to the mailing list for the target area and price range, and that I would receive daily email alerts with links to candidate listings.  If there was something I liked, I could ask to see it. She did say that the majority of the listing action would happen in the spring; people want to set things up so they move over the summer, when their children are not in school.  If a school transfer is necessary, it makes more sense to start fresh for the new school year.

[pullquote]Sometimes victory isn’t snatched from struggle and strife. Sometimes, victory soars through the air from the sea, lands in your boat of it’s own free will, flops about obligingly for a moment, and then practically filets itself while you fetch a plate and light the grill.[/pullquote]

A few months went by without getting any emails.  At first, I thought that there simply weren’t any candidates in my target, but then I became concerned. I contacted the realtor, and she said they had the wrong email address for me.  Another few weeks, no emails.  I contacted again – technology still not cooperative.  Finally, I started receiving the listings emails – the first arrived in my inbox on April 11th! That’s three months to the day after my initial contact with the realtor. I am starting to recognize this as a successful exercise in balancing between exertion of my own sheer force of will vs. heeding resistance from the Universe when met.  There is really no good reason that my rather simple email address was entered into the database wrong, not once but TWICE. Although I had a niggling feeling all winter that I needed to “progress the migration”, I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t muscling things.  I’m quite capable of that, but have learned to meet only artifice with artifice, to reserve it for stuff like meeting outrageous workplace expectations so one doesn’t get fired.  Should I encounter resistance from the Universe on personal matters, I should not automatically take it as a gauntlet thrown, a challenge to overcome all obstacles and emerge victorious. Sometimes victory isn’t snatched from struggle and strife. Sometimes, victory soars through the air from the sea, lands in your boat of it’s own free will, flops about obligingly for a moment, and then practically filets itself while you fetch a plate and light the grill.

The following day, April 12th, I photographed a hike for my county’s conservation organization.  I had a new, confusing camera with me that I’d taken out into the wild only once before. The lens is powerful, and I was hoping for some decent, in-focus, long-distance wildlife shots. The preserve we visited that day functions as a filter marsh. There are golf courses and condo complexes nearby that cause polluted runoff.  Before this water can reach the bay, it is directed into the marsh by a series of canals, where the plants cleanse it of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, engine oil, etc.

Swallow-tailed kit preens in Estero Marsh PreserveWhile we were in the marsh, we saw the most magnificent and unusual sight – four, count ’em, FOUR swallow-tailed kites at rest in a clump of trees and snags.  They didn’t seem to mind us being there, and went about their business of preening and resting without much interest in us. I’d only ever seen them in the air before, and I find it pretty difficult to capture them while they are moving, so I was beside myself to have this great new tool in my hand with 50x optical zoom and sedentary subjects.  As I often do when hoping a wild animal will cooperate, I spoke to them in my mind, and they obliged with several different poses (sometimes I whisper, but not when there are other people around, who could interpret this as the mark of insanity LOL). At one point, one of them looked right at me. It’s my favorite shot of the day, the first picture in this post. I experience that look as slightly indulgent and amused, and I think s/he looks quite adorable for a bird of prey.   I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, and I was hugely pleased with the results.

By April 16th, I had received an email with a link to a property that seemed almost perfect. Unbelievably, it was located down the same road as the marsh preserve, about a mile before one gets to the trail head.  The realtor and I went to see it and we ended up putting in a bid. However, someone outbid us, so it was back to the drawing board.

Nearly two weeks passed before another promising-looking property came up in the daily email. This one was smaller by one bedroom, but it is located down that very same road! In fact, a short half a minute walk down the street to the dead end would bring me to the utilities service road that also serves as the entrance to the “backstage” of the preserve. I emailed and asked to see the property, and something made me push to see it THAT day. As I was driving to see the property, not far from my current home, I saw a swallow-tailed kite circling over an open field.

Swallow-tailed kite at Estero Marsh PreserveWhen I arrived at the site, I had a short wait for the realtor to arrive. As I was standing there in the parking lot, getting the lay of the land, I heard a familiar drumming sound.  I fished my binoculars out of the car and spent the next ten minutes following a red-bellied woodpecker around the neighborhood and through the trees. Oh, yeah!

The realtor arrived and we looked at the house.  There had been some recent improvements made, including upgrades to the kitchen and the bathrooms.  The paint was also new, and I liked the colors, but the chair rail in the dining area had been painted sloppily. It made me recall an episode of an old TV series, “My So-Called Life”, the one where Brian comes over to help with the wallpaper and he advises Grant to make sure the pattern lines up. He says there is one spot in the wallpaper in his bedroom that doesn’t line up, and “it’s, like, ruining my life”.  I so, SO get that!  Unlike building a new home and having the power to make everything just so, when you buy something used, you have to live with other people’s mistakes, lapses in judgement, and lackadaisical attitudes toward upkeep. There were a few things I didn’t like, and I recognized a number of maintenance deficiencies that would have to be addressed.  Other than these, which were all fixable, I also recognized that the desirability of the location, the value of the upgrades, the layout, the HUGE honkin’ screened patio, and the price all conspired to make this a deal that should not be passed up, despite niggling dislikes and doubts.

I soon realized that the doubts could be rooted in fear, the fear that’s associated with taking big risks and unsettling one’s settled existence. Let’s remember this: I’ve bitten MUCH bigger bullets than this in my life. It’s time to act. I know by now that I will receive guidance or a big, fat NO from the Universe if this is wrong.  We decided to bid.

I was actually the first bidder, apparently. The selling agent is processing one bid at a time, rather than pitting everyone against everyone in the usual frenzied game. The property is owned by Fannie Mae, and there were numerous paperwork hoops through which to jump. We got a counter offer, and had to do all the paperwork over again because the price changed. I was away visiting family while that was happening, so it was challenging – but technology made it entirely achievable.

Swallow-tailed kite in profile, Estero Marsh PreserveOn Monday May 13th, I ordered an inspection and appraisal, both of which also happened while I was away. The day I ordered them, I was wondering about all this money spent on those activities, and then what if the deal doesn’t work out? Then I’m out all this money! I fretted about it through my photography class that afternoon, and on the way home as well. Just as I drove into my community that evening, I saw not one but TWO swallow-tailed kites circling overhead near the entrance. I have never seen swallow-tailed kites in this community before. I wondered what brought them here. I wondered why I was seeing swallow-tailed kites so frequently. Was it just that my awareness of them had been raised, or was their presence increasing? I was happy to see them.

The appraisal was pretty much on target with the counter-offer, and the inspection revealed only minor maintenance inconveniences associated with age, neglect, emptiness, and foreclosure.

I shakily gave the order to my financial management team to wire the downpayment, concluded the visit with my family, and drove home.  On the way home, I decided to drive down the center of the state, where there are farms and small towns and more farms.  And what do you think I saw, wheeling above one of those farms?  Three guesses only, first two don’t count.  Yep, my friend  the swallow-tailed kite.

The next day, I had to drive out to my realtor’s office to sign yet MORE documents pertaining to the title company and the cash transaction. As I was leaving the house, I remembered that several days accumulation of snail mail would have been delivered that morning, and fetched it from the mailbox before driving off. I threw the mail onto the front seat. I was pleased to see that a small package had arrived. I had ordered some new sunglasses from eBay. My old ones were 7 years old and in horrid shape. I’d bought them when I first moved to Florida, and they’d seen sand and wind and rain, and they’d been dropped a few times too. So I searched on eBay until I found a pair I liked and bid on them. It would be good to be able to see again without having to peer around the scratches and dings.

As I drove, I was starting to feel the fear. I was thinking of reasons to put the brakes on and stop the transaction. I was trying to breathe and to focus on driving as I got closer to busier streets.

[pullquote]Sometimes, victory isn’t snatched from struggle and strife. Sometimes, victory drops down from the sky, looks you in the eye, and says it’s time to fly.[/pullquote]

I had to stop at the post office to mail some packages. These were things I’d sold on eBay and Amazon that would help to defray the cost of the new sunglasses. When I came out of the post office, I saw the package sitting on the seat and decided to wear the new sunglasses. As I was opening the package, I noticed the return address. They came from a seller in California who lived on a street with the SAME EXACT NAME as the property I was trying to buy. I smiled and relaxed a little, put on my new sunglasses, and headed out of the parking lot. As I made the turn out of the post office lot,  a swallow-tailed kite suddenly appeared and flew straight toward my windshield. He looked me dead in the eye as he floated over the hood, and then he disappeared over the roof.

Okay. Alright, already. I guess the kites want to welcome me to the neighborhood.  I guess we’re moving, then.

Sometimes, victory isn’t snatched from struggle and strife. Sometimes, victory drops down from the sky, looks you in the eye, and says it’s time to fly.


4 thoughts on “A kite tale”

  1. Thank you! And even though I am losing the guest room, the blue suede damnsofa is a king sleeper… just sayin’ 🙂

Comments are closed.