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Posts tagged Kauai

An Indiana Farm on Kauai

                             9  bar rises 30.24  1mph NNW windchill 5

                                                    New Moon

                                   roosteranddoves300.jpg

When I was a boy, say 12 and under, each summer I would visit my Uncle Riley and Aunt Virginia for a couple of weeks or so.  They lived on the farm my grandfather had put together.  It was a couple hundred acres of corn, a few cows, a pig or two, harness-racing horses and chickens, Bantams with the Banty roosters and their mile-high attitude and morning curdling cock-a-doodle-doo.  These memories have a particular smell, a mixture of gravel dust, hay and cow manure.  They also have an increasingly antique feel as they recede further and further from the present day.

Imagine my surprise when these memories came alive all day, every day while we were on Kauai and all because of Hurrican I’niki.  In 1992, just before we first visited Kauai, it was struck by a rare and devastating hurricane.  This hurricane eliminated many resorts, including the famous Coco Palms where Elvis shot his movie, Blue Hawai’i.  Many homes blew away, trees and plants got pushed over and beaches changed their shapes. 

I’niki also opened up all of the many chicken coops on the island.  Once free, the chickens never again came home to roost, but instead have now made the entire island their home.  They are, like the feral pig, wild animals, freed to roam wherever they like in a paradise of bugs and small worms.

The result is that often throughout the day the sound of a Banty rooster crowing reverberates whether you’re on the beach, in the forests, up a mountain or near a river.  The chickens come around pic-nic tables and wait patiently for food.  Local children pick up the roosters and carry them like puppies down to the beach.  As a result, Uncle Riley and his farm came to mind day after day on the most isolated islands in the world, in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. 

Now that was unexpected.

The True Radicals of Today Are Conservatives

7:45AM.  Bright sun.  Blue water.  Breeze off the ocean.  Mourning doves coo.

The mourning doves have had it goin’ on the last week.  Males walk up to a female, bow, stomp their feet, then spread their tail feathers.  Oh, yeah.  I saw that move before.

Last post from Da Fish Shack.  My bags are packed and I’m ready to go.  Just 12 hours until my jet plane.  Da Fish Shack check-out is 10AM and my flight doesn’t leave until 8:15 PM so I have time to do some more sightseeing, shop, visit the museum in Lihue, have lunch and dinner.

One point of comparison I forgot between Da Fish Shack and the Hyatt was showers.  At the Hyatt the shower was an ordinary shower in a tub, found in most hotels.  Here at Da Fish Shack showers are al fresco although with appropriate screening.  Kate suggested I use flip-flops when I used the shower.  Although I would not want to take showers outside at home, here in Hawai’i’s wonderful climate, it provides a note of adventure to a routine task.  You can hear the surf and feel the wind all over.

On driving back last Sunday night to Da Fish Shack after supper in Wailua, I turned on NPR.  Guess who was on?  Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion.  Right here on route 56 headed north toward Princeville and Hanalei.  This morning I read the NYT while I ate breakfast.  Lead story in travel?  Skiing on the Gunflint Trail.  

Something I’ve started rolling around.  It appears to me that the true radicals of today are conservatives.  No, not the George Buckley, Russell Kirkland variety or the neo-con versions that got us into this damned war, but conservatives who focus their conservative tendencies on species and eco-systems, on cultures and life ways.  These eco-conservatives are in fact conservative over against enlightenment liberals,  free-market economists and raging bull capitalists of multi-national corporate organizations.

In tandem with this thought, which still percolates, is another.   Rather than the nexus of evil, the world’s faith traditions are vast resources that represent the human heart and mind at its most integrated, its most daring and its most compassionate.  Yes, the religious institutions that accrete around these faith traditions often become like the coral reef, rigid and sharp, but the faith traditions themselves preserve the world’s oldest stories and humankind’s most radical dreams. 

When anti-religion dogmatists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens rail against these institutions, all they are doing is raising the enlightenment flag of REASON.  Well, here’s the big news guys, REASON is not all there is.  In fact, reason works its magic by dividing and parsing, by reducing the world to manageable portions, to forumlas and laws.  Not a bad thing as far it goes, but turn the process on its head and move out toward the whole, toward life and the solar system, the galaxy, the cosmos. 

These things are.  And, they were before science and reasons and they will be after science and reason has passed away.  They do not need to consult either Newton or Einstein to go the speed of light or engage gravity.  It is this whole, the buzzing, blooming whole that is most precious and it will not be dissected because there are too many variables, too many data points moving in too many disparate directions.

And so forth.

Kauai is Old. Old and Moody.

8:53PM 73.  Night.  Clouds.  Surf back.  Strong, cool breeze off ocean.  Humid.

Kauai is old.  Old and moody.  It goes from sunshine to dark clouds in a moment, from dry to cloudburst.  It’s peaks sharp and jagged, there are notches between mountains.  Valleys run away from the ocean in deep v’s ending in waterfalls. 

A quarter of the island has no roads and no human habitation.  Only 58,000 people live on Kauai as residents, though many others come through from a few days to a few months.  Like me.

High up on Mount Wai’aleale hundreds of inches rain fall each year.  The Polihale Beach and the area around it on the south west is arid, practically desert.  Great sea slides lie in the Pacific around Kauai, evidence of land that used to be above sea level.

The longer I’m here, the more the land and the ocean speak.  The bays, the beaches, small lakes of freshwater.  The debris thrown up on the beach speaking of  what lies beneath the water.  The way vegetation and temperature change as elevation changes.  The breezes.  The fresh catch in the restaurants:  opah, ahi, marlin, ono.

Somewhere under all this is a process so old, so mysterious that it leaves no trace, yet nothing here happened without it.  Or happens.  Maybe it’s not under, perhaps within or around and within is better. 

Here’s the twist for me.  The more Kauai draws me in and makes me love her, the more I want to return to Minnesota, to our lakes, our rivers and streams.  The trees and shrubs and flowers on the land we care for in Andover.  I want to make another circle tour of Lake Superior, a slow one with time to listen to the lake.   Minnesota is old, too, and the process works there, too.  The same process.

As Lao-Tze said, “Whenever I sit in a room, the universe is there.”

And Yet More Shells

75.  Cool ocean breeze.  Overcast.  Ocean calm and gray, surf noise subdued.

Hit the beach at 08:45, plastic container in hand.  Shelling started immediately.

This beach, one whose name I don’t even know, has signs that say, “Stay Away From the Monk Seals.”  How different it would be if it read, “Stay Away From the Monk Cells.”

On the back of the dangerous surf, you will die if you swim, sign was a sticker that said “In Hawai’i Water is the Medicine.”  Another sticker was “Surfer Bagels.”  Just wouldn’t make sense in Minnesota.  Hawai’ian’s like to add to signage, but tourist join in the fun, too.  An obsessive type wrote on a sign indicating three curves:  Reversed.

Back to the shelling.  I spent two plus hours on hands and knees plucking the abandoned carapaces of tiny sea creatures from the sand.  I have a bunch and have begun to plot how to get them home without turning them into sand, their eventual fate on the beach.  I’ll let  you know how it turns out when I get back on Faery and Cthonic Home Schoolers, my home computer.

Kate was still in when I called from the beach.  She was just getting ready for work. I’ve got this Minnesota/Hawai’i time thing down now and I’m leaving. 

Joseph is home and staying at Raeone’s right now, but plans to come up and stay with us over the weekend at least.  This is his final stay in Minnesota before he leaves Breckenridge for good and heads off to Montgomery, Alabama for OTS.  That’s twelve week.  After that, he may have time off or maybe not, so this might be the last chance I have to see him for a few months.  Glad he’s home.

After packing this afternoon, I’m going to keep reading Honor Killing, a very good book, then go in for fish.  This afternoon I went back to the Thai place and had summer rolls and papaya salad.  Just right.  Much better on the tummy than that bacon cheeseburger I had yesterday afternoon after I got back from Lumihali Garden.   Talk about heavy, man.

I won’t miss a full day of posting, but I may miss the afternoon and evening tomorrow and the morning the next day.  We’ll see how it goes. I don’t have much time between flights, which, if it works out, is good. If not, well, you may see something from Las Vegas.

The Tao and the Islands

7:41AM  Cool breeze.  Overcast. Calm ocean, no surf. 

Last full day in Hawai’i.  Time has passed more slowly for me than usual.  Often, I go on vacation and the next thing I know I’m back on the plane headed home.  This trip a variety of circumstances have slowed things down, among them Kate’s illness and my decision to get the full resort experience at the Hyatt.

When I arrived last Saturday at Da Fish Shack, I was already on Island time.  Having a place this close to the ocean did, as I’d hoped, attune me to its rhythms.  Surf comes in, goes out, comes in, goes out night and day. 

Nighttime breezes off the ocean cool the land to perfect sleeping weather and mountain breezes move the air during the heat of the day.  The slow warming of the day gives way to pleasant, dark nights with no traffic and no metro glow to dull the view of the stars.

Last night I realized the true character of this little place.  It’s a Hawai’ian hermitage, a small cell on the ocean where the soul can come for a rest and rejuvenation. 

The immediacy of ocean, mountain and lush plant life call out for malama ‘aina.  It’s not surprising that the first Hawai’ians heard the call.  Our home in Andover gives me the same sense of connection to the land, a place where Kate and I have, over years of gardening, become na kama’aina. 

The Tao almost becomes visible here on Kauai.  That is, the ebb and flow of the cosmos, its inevitable course, has so much evidence on this ancient island, already long eroded and heading toward a new life as an atoll, then its permanent one as a seamount. 

 Here in Hawai’i land emerges from the ocean with hot rock and vitality.  Rain and the ocean combine with the wind to create soil.  On the soil plants take hold, sending out roots which further fracture the lava, creating more soil.  The island moves off the hotspot and this erosive process takes over as the primary shaper of the land. (excluding bulldozers and cement) As furthest along in this process of the main high islands, Kauai has the feel of a hermit, ravaged by time and wrinkled, yet bearer of the earth’s wisdom. 

A few weeks here is only enough to catch a glimpse of the message Kauai has for us as we hurtle forward in our terraforming experiment.  The message may be, whatever happens, the earth herself will survive.

Malama ‘Aina

When night comes, Maui or Pele or one of Them pulls the curtain fast.  Dark.  Stars.  Where there was light.  Fast.

The Hawi’ians Great Work (see Thomas Berry’s book of the same name) was to manifest Aloha in their treatment of the land.  Malama ‘aina means to care for the land as one would a family member. 

The land provides taro, the staple of the Hawi’ian pre-contact diet.  As a taro plant matures, offshoots known as ‘oha grow up around the plant and, in time, create new plants.  This gave Hawai’ian the word ‘ohana, family.

The pre-contact kama’aina (kama=children, ‘aina=land, therefore, native born) “honored nature and the ‘aina as a possession of their gods.” from the Limahuli Garden self-guided tour booklet.  Over time this took the form of ahupua’a, a method of land division that ran from the coast into the heights of the mountains.  In essence an ahupua’a divided the islands by watershed.  This division allowed for self-sufficiency since each ahupua’a had fresh water from its source, usually a waterfall high in the mountains, land suitable for various kinds of agriculture and living along the gradient from mountain to shore and a spot from which to set out into the sea to fish.

At the Limahuli gardens the NTBG wants to restore the Limahuli ahupua’a.  The gardens begin near the ocean and continue, in three large reserves, all the way to the source of the Limahuli stream which runs through the garden on its way to the sea.  On the garden tour the NTBG has recreated a large section, 5 beds, of taro irrigated in the traditional manner through small ditches connected to the stream, the guided through a series of waterfalls and sluice gates onto the taro beds.  As I walked among them today, the sound of the running water melded with the quiet but energetic plants to create a sense of peacefulness and abundance. 

Watersheds as a political unit is an idea that’s been kicking around the environmental movement for some time now, but has not gotten much traction.  I’ve always liked it and the ahupua’a gives a real world for instance of how it could work.  I worked out the watershed for Andover.  It begins in Lake Mille Lacs and focuses on the Rum River as it heads into the Mississippi at Anoka. 

Think what it would be like if that watershed was a state senate district and two state house districts.  Imagine congressional districts composed not of gerrymandered counties and chunks of counties, but as an agglomeration of watersheds.  Imagine the citizens of these watershed districts imbued with malama ‘aina.  Don’t know about you, but that sounds substantial to me.

Mango Mama’s And Beyond

4:35PM  Overcast.  75.  Ocean slate gray and calm.

A full vacationing day today.  Got up, got dressed and drove to Mango Mama’s.  I went there thinking waffles, eggs and bacon, but when I arrived I discovered it was just a step away from vegan.  They did have an interesting food, Acai, billed as the Amazon Super-Fruit.  So, if I couldn’t have bacon and eggs I chose Acai.  This is a berry of some kind and tastes as the guy behind counter put it, “Somewhere between blueberry and blackberry.”  He was right.  It was tasty. They put it on granola and bananas.

Superfood No. 1: Açaí

Nature’s Energy Fruit

It may seem odd to start this list of superfoods with one you’ve likely never even heard of. But studies have shown that this little berry is one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world! Açaí (ah-sigh-ee) is the high-energy berry of a special Amazon palm tree. Harvested in the rainforests of Brazil, açaí tastes like a vibrant blend of berries and chocolate. Hidden within its royal purple pigment is the magic that makes it nature’s perfect energy fruit. Açaí is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Although açaí may not be available in your local supermarket, you can find it in several health food and gourmet stores (often in juice form). A new product featuring the unsweetened pulp is now also available, and I highly recommend that you choose this form of açaí.

There you go. The guy that wrote this appeared on Oprah.  How’s that for authentic?

After Mango Mama’s I slipped down the switchback to the taro farm, then into Hanalei.  My destination Lumahai Beach.  A website said it was the best beach on Kauai for unusual shells.  Doesn’t say much for the rest, I can now tell you after 2 hours beach combing.  I did find some good shells, but not many. 

The beach itself is wonderful.  To reach it I clambered through a forest of Pandanus trees and some sword like plant that left little splinters on my leg, this all while headed precipitously downhill.  When I broke out of the forest, I was on a crescent shaped beach with lava extrusions and wild waves.  Lifeguards call this Lumadieya beach because of the number of drownings here due to a vicious rip-tide in winter.  This is winter. 

Next to the crescent shaped beach was a longer, more gently curved beach that ran for over a half a mile.  When I arrived, I could see only 4 people.  As I began my search for shells, I did stumble, almost, on a naked sun-bather, well-hidden, but still visible when I walked up on him. Later on I saw this same young man, maybe early 20’s, walk down to the ocean, starkers.  He appeared to be presenting himself to two bikini clad women who had just walked by.  They did not seem impressed.

Immediately after this I went to Limahuli gardens a ways on down the road toward the Na Pali. (Na makes a noun plural in Hawi’ian.  Pali is cliff, so this means cliffs.)  The tour I took their got me on another topic I’ll write a bit about later. 

The Hawai’ian Night

11:00 PM.  Watched Jericho, the second TV program I’ve viewed in three weeks, not counting that Goldie Hawn movie that Kate and I watched together.

The Hawai’ian sunset, the Hawai’ian sunrise, the wonderful sun during the day.  Yeah, yeah, yeah all true.

I want to say a word for the Hawai’ian night.  Again.  Clear.  Black with brilliant lights, the lights of the heavens.  The Big Dipper that lit the way for the underground railroad.  It pointed then and points now to Polaris.  The North Star.  I feel an affection for Polaris much like I feel for Orion.  It has an identity and its identity and mine have grown together over the years.  Hokusai, probably the best Ukiyo-e artist belonged to a Buddhist sect that worshipped the north star.  I get it.

While sky watching, the ocean never stops.  Standing on old volcanic soil, listening to the waves and seeing the stars that helped the Polynesians navigate on their amazing voyage here. 

They also used ocean currents and cloud formations.   A book I read yesterday compared their voyage to one headed off on a journey to a distant planet.  What would you take with  you?  They brought 27 species of plants:  ti, taro, breadfruit and bananas among them.  They call them canoe plants.

Imagine being out there in the middle of the Pacific ocean, in an outrigger canoe.  At night.  Just imagine.

Junky Waves, Not Clean Enough to Surf

4:45PM 75.  Cloudy.  Ocean breeze.  Languid is the word.  Da Fish Shack has a languid atmosphere right now; I feel enervated by the languidness of it all.  Or something.

Outta here around 11:30 AM headed for Hanalei.  Traffic was good and I got to Hanalei about 20 minutes after I left.  I ate lunch at the Hanalei Dolphin on the banks of the Hanalei River.  Had opah, but it was not as good as Mama’s Fish House.  Guess that’s to be expected. 

Drove through Hanalei to locate the farmer’s market again.  Found it and drove on to find the Lumahuli gardens and check out the surfing.  Found no surfing at Pinetrees or the Pavilion.  Went on to Black Pot Bay.  No surfers there either, but there was a lifeguard.

He had hand printed a list of questions and answers.  Where is Hanalei? 7 miles back down the road.  Where is Ke’ee beach.  Next beach down the road.  Sort of a lifeguard FAQ.

Not on his list was anything about surfing.  I asked him why nobody was surfing.  “It’s junky.”  Oh. “What does that mean?”  “It’s not clean.”  Oh.  Not a chatty sort.

What I took from it was that the waves broke in several different places, there was no clean line for a surfer to catch.  He suggested I look at Hanalei (Pinetrees and Pavilion).  I said thanks and continued on looking for Lumahuli Gardens.  Found it not too much further up the road.

I drove in and went up to the visitor center.  I wanted to buy a guide to the self-guided trip.  The woman was reluctant to sell it to me.  “We think it makes more sense if you see the plants as you read the guide.”  “I see. Still, I want to read it before I go on the trail.”  Still she hesitated. “I’m a gardner.  I think I’ll get something from it.”  She reached behind her.  Yes.  “You know you’ll still be charged $15 for the tour?”  Yes, indeed, I did.  That was more difficult than necessary.

It was close to time for the Hanalei Farmer’s Market (which I had read about in the New York Times.) so I headed back toward Hanalei.  When I arrived, at about 1:55,  a line of cars waited to make a turn into the grassy parking lot.  I was on the right side, so I parked.

It looked like a county fair.  There were several, maybe as many as 11, rows of cars parked 10-12 in a row.

The crowd stood patiently, like good Minnesotans, behind a blue rope.  Well, almost all were patient.  An older with broad shoulders and a Maryland Football t-shirt walked up to the fence and in a gruff voice said, “Come on.”  Nobody paid any attention. Promptly at 2 the rope came down and we went in as a group. 

As farmer’s markets in Minnesota go, it was small, but the choice of foods ranged from the ordinary to the exotic.  There were wax beans, green beans, lettuce, flowers, rambutan, pineapple, avocado, banana’s, tangerines, oranges, more pineapples, more tangerines.  One woman had a whole stand of tropical fruits, most of which I had never encountered: lingons and a fruit I bought that she advertised as having a cinnamon taste.  It does.  But I didn’t pay attention to the name.  Just tried to find it.  Couldn’t.  It’s good and does have a cinnamony, custard type flavor.

I bought those whatever they were and a pound of rambutans, lychee nuts convered in a red skin with little soft spikes all over.  Very cool.  Discovered these at Mama’s.

That was the day.  After that I drove back to Da Fish Shack.  Tried to take a nap, but it didn’t take, so I started this.

Tonight?  Who knows.

Happy on Kauai and at Da Fish Shack

Sunny.  Shirt sleeve weather heading toward swim suit.  From the back lanai I can see rollers coming in that have curl, places for surfers to ride, but they’re all up on the north shore, Hanalei and westward toward Na Pali.  That’s where the  black diamonds are today. At least in surfing and skiing, black diamond means, “Come to me, all you who are skilled and eager;” instead of, as the Hawai’i Beach Safety website says, “Extreme Hazard.”

Got my groove back.  Slept till 8:30 AM.  Then, I put the little table on the back lanai, cooked up some eggs, toast and bacon, made myself a cup of Darjeeling and dined al fresco.  Directly in front of me is the neighbor’s yard, hammock strung and festooned with abandoned bumpers (boats).  At its edge next to the beach is a fir of some kind, aloe and ilia, a low, fronded plant and a small tree that looks like our magnolia.  Beyond these plants lies the ocean.  Out where the coral reefs protect Anahola Bay, the rollers I mentioned hit the reef, throw up spume and curl toward shore.

Yesterday I felt lonely, not alone, a huge difference for me.  This makes me yearn for something other than what I’m experiencing.  I don’t always recognize it when it creeps up on me.  The symptoms are vague dissatisfaction, an urge to wander, to do something, realize a goal.  Of course I miss Kate and always find life lighter and easier with her, yet I also love to be alone, on my own, but there are times when I seem to be adrift, goal-less and clueless.  Like yesterday.

Today I’m fine with breakfast, the table outside, the ocean in front of me.  Must have been a transition to an alone on vacation state, a transition from two weeks with Kate.  Now the same things that seemed dull and similar appear fresh and unique.  Plenty of time and happy to be here.

I’ve reduced my planned activity today to one:  the Hanalei farmer’s market at 2pm.  Might try to catch some of the north shore surfers.  Might not.

Happy on Kauai, at Da Fish Shack.  Aloha for now.

April 2017
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