Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who's Next?

Some people visit Kauai and decide not to leave. As I was saying in my last blog entry I have some friends that go way back but none goes further back than the one sleeping on my couch right now, who I will call Pussycat. I was so young that I can’t remember meeting her but it must have been around the first or second grade when we were both students at Rivendell, a one-room, parent-run co-operative school with about 15 students K-6. It made Peninsula School, which we both later attended after Rivendell expired, seem large and conservative by comparison. It was not the kind of school where one learned to spell very well but how many one-room school houses put on performances of The Ramayana? Or cancel all classes and devote an entire day to roller skating?. Perhaps it was those early experiences that gave Pussycat her gift for thinking outside the box.

And for most people moving from Estonia to Kauai might seem like a big deal but for her it seems natural. The day she arrived was warm as always but somewhat rainy and not so nice by Kauai standards. Even so, within 24 hours she was looking at rentals in the paper and now she has signed a lease, re-scheduled her return flight acquired several appliances and applied for jobs in the area. In all the years I’ve known her I’ve never seen her so excited; it’s like someone who has just fallen in love.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Who's That Sleeping on my Floor?

How many people do you know who are still friends with people they met in college? How about people they met in high school? Grade school? What would it be like to have a group of friends that you have been close to your entire adult life and most of your childhood? Most people I know don’t know the answer to that question but I do.

Of course, this won’t come as news to most of my readers because you are those friends. Why do some friends drift apart while others stick together or inexplicably return after long absences? I have no idea, but I consider myself very, very lucky to have the friends that I do. It’s like having a second family.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Performance

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Kauai, come on by and here my chorus sing.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

1982 Family Vacation

Each of the students in my eighth grade class (a group whose members probably compose the majority of Planet Haolewood’s audience) wrote a short paragraph in our school year book that was supposed to sum up how we felt about our cozy little school. I chose to relate a story about how in the summer after 4th grade my teacher instructed each of us to write a letter while school was out, photocopy it and mail it to everyone else in the class. That way each of us would receive 20 letters over the summer. Most of the class did not complete the assignment (you know who you are, people! I’m still waiting for that letter…) and of those who did I was apparently the only one who sent a copy to our teacher, Roger. On the first day of the next school year Roger thanked me and gave me a box on pencils to take with me as I set out to begin life in “the upper school,” which is what we called 5th-8th grade.

In the letter I wrote about my family’s trip to Kauai and about our hike to a beach. While we were at the beach it rained so much that the small stream we had crossed to get there had swollen to a raging torrent. When it was time to leave we had no choice but to cross the stream again and risk being swept out to sea. I held my dad’s hand tightly and I remember being very scared but we all made it ok. That was 24 years ago.

No one in my family remembered the name of the beach but it’s a small island and I have been able to figure out where it was. I’ve been there several times and crossed that very stream on days when it was not flooded. At the age of 10 trying to imagine what I would be doing when I was 34 is something that never would have occurred to me. Had someone asked me I probably would have responded with an indifferent “I dunno” and run off to play in the ocean. Where will I be in another 24 years? I dunno… I’m going surfing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is there something in the water here?

Kauai is fertile ground for the imagination. Like the non-native plants that quickly spread their vines and roots as soon as they arrive here so the minds of humans, who are, after all, just as non-native as the Coqui Tree Frog seem to sprout fantastic branches that would surely grow more modestly in other climates. Just try lying on a Kauaian beach and starring up into the sky with the hypnotic sound of the surging surf singing to you like some kind of primordial and formless mermaid sometime and see where your mind goes. You might be surprised. It’s suddenly seems not so impossible that a magic dragon might frolic on over and invite you to play even if you haven’t been smoking Pakalolo.

We’re a long way from anywhere out here. Even the other Hawaiian Islands are not visible on the horizon. While there is a community college on the island, institutions of higher learning and governmental authorities seem far away. The need to verify facts that normally tethers the mind’s fancies seems to have lost its grip. And of course, all the other inhabitants of this island’s minds have been steeping in the sun for various lengths of time so you can’t count on them to reign in your imagination. Like a rumor at a church luncheon whatever story emerges from the creative Kauai mind is likely to be spread around and even amplified by all the other folks here.

A huge mountain dominates the landscape on Kauai’s North Shore. Most days its top is hidden in clouds but on those days when the mists part its towering peak and the waterfall issuing forth from a cleft just below the summit provide a stunning sight. I’ve asked several people, some of whom have lived here their entire lives, what the name of that mountain is and none of them knew. Would the power of the sight be somehow diminished by people knowing the name? I have no explanation.

But while no one seems to know the name of the enormous mountain in our own backyard, they “know” a lot of other truths that seems to have eluded the knowledgeable just about everywhere else in the world. In my short time here I have heard some interesting home spun theories here. One day I observed some SUVs equipped with radar paraphernalia in a local park. I asked someone about it and was told that when VIPs such as The Clinton Family visit, which has been known to happen, these vehicles were stationed here to monitor possible vessels approaching into Hanalei Bay. That sounded incredible to me but in a time when we are being asked to surrender toothpaste before boarding an aircraft anything seems possible. As I approached one of the vehicles the man inside considerately turned off the radar (which might have knocked off my head had I gotten too close) and invited me inside to get a look at the research he was doing on sea birds for the state of Hawaii. He talked to me for a few minutes and then told me he had to get back to work as a new group of birds had appeared on his screen.

I talked to someone else who told me that he had been watching the ocean and weather conditions for several years and had observed that each year winter arrived a little later and this had been going on for so long that the seasons had now almost completely reversed themselves.

A friend of mine who used to own a business here told me that local some local residents believed that he was using his business as a front so he could sell marijuana. Others thought the business was a cover and that he was actually a CIA agent sent to investigate pot farmers. He assured me there was no truth to either story.

If enough people believe something does that make it true?