I've found it impossible to sit down in front of a computer long enough to express what I'm experiencing. I want to be OUTSIDE. I've been told that it's wise to be like the weather and change, but never have I been in a place where weather changes so often. I've been advised to not insist...the weather doesn't. Sometimes it rains, sometimes the sun shines and sometimes the wind blows. Other times it rains for minutes, hours, days and so on and so forth. One thing that can be counted on is the warmth. Hawai'i exists between a full sun and earth's molten core. Could it be that the porous lava soaks up the moisture, the magma heats it and sends it back out? A huge respiration of sorts? Since arriving I've felt grounded. I move slower. The lava is flowing into the ocean again and sometimes the air seems heavier-denser. If a south wind blows vog creeps Puna way, our way. Vog is volcanic fog full of, for one thing, sulphur dioxide. The sun rises at around 6:30 a.m. and sets at around 6:30 p.m. By 9:00 p.m. it's midnight dark, or as the locals say, 9:00 p.m. is Puna midnight. I've also been warned to be aware of the Punatiks. Apparently this is one of the best places to land, if you seek anonymity!? The stars and planets shine brighter at night, even brighter than in Idaho or Montana. It cools into the 60's and there is usually a breeze. Coquis, Puerto Rican tree frogs, recent arrivals and considered to be pests by the locals, bring on the night with their strangely deep and flute like song. Doves coo in the morning. The Cardinals, Elepaios, Oma'os, 'Amakihis, Nutmeg Mannikins, Japanese white-eyes, etc. tweet and chirp the days away.
It's difficult taking photographs of the sky. The water in the air diffuses the light and sky images appear blurred at best, washed out at worst. The best time to photograph is earlier or later in the day. The plants have been my preferred subjects. For one thing they are stationary and therefore easier to photograph and because, well, they are fantastic. And to think all the vegetation exists on top of lava. There's just a thin layer of dense and dark organic matter that sustains a mass of vegetation. Towering trees, vines with a gargantuan will to survive, delicate orchids, robust palms...and the names: Malabar Chestnuts, Royal Palms, Suriname Cherries, Heliconias, Anthuriums, Angel's Trumpets, Bromeliads (Pineapples are Bromeliads), Hibiscus, Oleander, Albizia trees, Lipstick Plants, 'Ohi'a Lehuas, Plumeria, etc. The heat and moisture consume the vegetation at a rate I've never experienced before. As I hack back the jungle each day I create mounds of compostible materials. I've cleared a fenced in garden spot. I will soon begin sprouting corn and beans. I'm planting a local squash as well. I'm sprouting chard and kale, turmeric, basil, oregano, sweet peppers, Ping Tong eggplant, Pigeon peas, Globe Artichoke, etc. There are hundreds of Banana trees on property. I use a weed wacker, machete and clippers to de-vine the trees and pull up the ground cover. The vines fight back with thorns. Noni trees come second in sheer number. The noni fruit, and other plant parts, have been used specifically by Hawiaans and generally by all Polenisians to promote good health. The ripe fruit smells like ripe French cheese. We've picked some and let them liquify in a glass jar in the sun for weeks. You pour off the juice and drink it. I put it in my smoothies. It's not easy to take a shot of pure Noni juice.
The southeast coast of Hawai'i is rugged, black and the ocean is powerful. The water waves for thousands of miles before it finds Hawai'i. I approach the water with caution and reverence. The surf can be unmerciful. I've learned how to dive under the approaching wave and let the undertow pull me out into deeper water where I can swim with and like a dolphin. I'm not nearly as graceful as the spinner dolphins that jump twirling into the air. I've been told that swimmers take leaves out into the water, drop them and the dolphins grab the leaves, then bring them back to play again. I've been close enough to the dolphins to hear them, but I haven't gone far enough out yet to swim with them. Last Monday a mother humpback and her calf came close to the shore and broke the surface. Everyone on the beach showed their appreciation somehow. One woman blew into a conch shell, one man re-started to play his flute, some yelled, some clapped hands. Three lucky swimmers came within 10ft of the wintering whales. Each time before entering the water I wait on the shore until the water reaches me and wets my feet. I'm letting Pele's sister know that I'm there. Will she be kind? After each swim I sit on a shoal of black pebbles, just out of reach of the ocean's strongest waves, on my belly, head down, facing the water. I let the waves blow negative ions and salt air my way. It's crazy I know, but sometimes I feel/think the ocean sends bigger waves my way to let me know she knows where I am.
I've met several native Hawaiians, but have not heard spoken Hawaiian. I've read two very good books on Hawaii and its people: Change We Must by Nana Veary and The Bowl of Light by Hank Wesselman. The first one chronicles Nana's spiritual journey and the second features ancestral wisdom from a Hawaiian shaman. Like all people connected to the earth, Hawaiians move gracefully and lovingly with nature.