• Tag Archives Da Fish Shack
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Black Sticky Rice

    9:23PM.  Night.  Clear sky.  Orion stands over the back of da fish shack.

    Saw a mule with an egret on its back.  So.  I looked it up.  Cattle egrets pick parasites off the backs of cattle and apparently some egrets do the same with horses.  These are not cattle egrets, but, then again, these weren’t cattle.  Found a picture on an Austrailian website with egrets on feral horses.  Whatta ya know.  Balance.

    Tomorrow is the Hanalei farmer’s market so I’m going to take in the farmer’s market and the Lumiha gardens on the same trip. 

    The shells I found were tiny, but I saw another Nihau shell lei today and these shells aren’t the same kind.  Still, we can do something with them and I’ll get more of them on Wednesday.

    Had long noodle soup, summer rolls and black sticky rice for supper.  The black sticky rice was yummy and I found a recipe.  It is a black rice made with coconut milk and tapioca.  It’s tasty. 

  • Wahoo!

    4:35 PM.  Winds 17 mph.  Waves break on the reef and the palm fronds flutter toward the southwest.

    Slow day.  Went into Kapa’a and had lunch at the Wahoo Seafood Bar and Grill.  In fact, I had Wahoo.  Wahoo!  Not bad, but not as good as I expected from an “award winning” restaurant noted as Kauai’s best for seafood.  It has bamboo slats for wainscoting along the outside, waist high wall.  Inside its primary distinguishing feature is a well-drawn fish-hook, the Wahoo’s graphic.

    After lunch I puttered over to the Coconut Grove Market, a place I recalled from our visit ten-years ago.  Then, it must have been new because I remember it as modestly upscale, now its crowds seem to come from tour buses and cruise ships.  Many shops have closed and whoever owns the place is not wasting money on upkeep.  Shabby.

    I did buy some music there, an Island themed Taj Mahal CD and a well-known Hawaiian singer, Keali’i Reichel’s CD, Kawaipunahele.  Buy two, get one handed to you.  Volume 2 of Paradise music.  Guess folks my age are the only ones who buy CD’s anymore.  Gosh, first vinyls, now CD’s.  Can DVD’s be far behind?

    Tomorrow I plan to go Lumahi Gardens just beyond Hanalei.  Was gonna go today, but they are closed.  This is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and focuses on native Hawai’ian plants, many of which are now rare, or extinct in the wild.

    Looked at the hometown weather this morning.  0 with a -10 windchill.  Kate said she had to blow 4-5 inches of compacted snow off the driveway.  A welcome home to Minnesota ritual.  She also picked up the dogs who were very happy to go home, though they had a good time at doggy camp, too.

    Trip’s not as much fun without Kate.  Realized today that living here might get old.  Either that or I’m at nadir for this trip, which I think is the case.  It happens.

  • A Beach Filled With Tiny Shells

    7o.  Sunny.  Surf seems higher today.  A breeze.  Palm fronds wave off the back lanai.

    Up early after what seemed like a restless night, though I seem refreshed, so I must have slept more than I thought.  At some point I got worried about someone breaking in since only screens separate me from the outside if I want to have any air in here.  Then I thought, why am I afraid?  Nothing has happened.  I went through several iterations with this, finally concluding that fear was a displacement of awareness of the unknown.  I know I can deal with the unknown, so that was that.  I went back to sleep.

    Ate breakfast at 6:50AM, just as dawn cracked the horizon off to the southeast.  The pale orange flavor of the dawn radiated South Pacific. Calm.  Colorful. Cyclical.

    Da Fish Shack compares to the Hyatt this way:  better, much better, internet connection; a kitchen, on the water, private, no kids screaming down the waterslide and costs about 1/8th of the Hyatt rack rate and about 1/4 of our discounted rate.  It has a flavor and a presence, light living on the land.  The Hyatt changed the land, landscaped and lit it, put buildings and restaraunts on it and tried to make them pretty.  And they did.  But.  Here the land and the ocean are beautiful without aid.  So, guess which I prefer?

    Out the door at 7:30AM to hike along a new trail developed by Kauai County.  It ran for about 600 yards then ended at dirt road which ran further than I had time to hike.  Perfect.  The road, part of the long county park, ran just above the ocean with wonderful views of beaches and ocean only 300 yards or so below. 

    Along the way I met a lithsome young lady on a mountain bike.  She had on a helmet, but road slowly.  Two men, chunky, and a boy wandered at a saunter and a dog walker with four leashed dogs and two loose passed me in the opposite direction.  Further on I saw a woman doing the yogic sun salute on a spit of sand projecting out into the bay.  Above me, up a hill stood two homes built in what looks like it will be a very exclusive development, 25 lots, all on the crest of a hill near the highway with stunning ocean views. 

    On the way back, when I go slower, I took pictures and meandered down to beach level at different points.  Near the trail head I took down from the parking lot near the highway, I dropped to a long, crescent shaped beach.  When Kate and I were ready to leave, we stopped to look at shell necklaces an aunty had for sale.  Aunty and Uncle are terms of respect for the elderly here.  A good idea.

    She had many Nihau necklaces.  “Nope.  Not for sale. I tell young people not to do what I do, buy the necklaces, then have no money.”  In essence she sold shell necklaces made in Polynesia so she could buy necklaces made on tiny Nihau.  She also told us that the very small Nihau shells sometime wash up on North Shore beaches.  The beach I went down to investigate is such a beach.  These tiny shells are there by the hundreds. I plan to spend an early morning doing nothing but collecting shells, then Kate and I can try our hand at making $2,000 necklaces.

    Had a more ambitious plan for this morning, but I’m feeling slow, so I may just stay here and read.