Slept in my clothes last night, in the reclining chair. It was OK. My big
wool jacket turned out to be useful in Hawai`i after all.
In the morning, I am woken by the sound of a cat trying frantically to get my attention. Outside it is grey and misty. The cat scratches at the door, yowls, and finally throws itself at the screen window, hanging on by its claws. I give it (and the mangy one who rapidly appears) a cup of food. I’m still not used to the near-silence here. There are sounds, but quiet ones: distant roosters in the morning, crickets and toads in the evening, the sound of the wind and raindrops, or mist collecting on the trees, condensing and dropping on the roof.
I walk outside the house, stepping gingerly around the tall wet grass. The hapu`u have grown enormous and entirely wild, like those in the thick of natural forest. The ohi`a are tall, bushy and very happy. Back in the house, i drink pog, take pictures, clean a window, make a list of the things i’ll need from Honoka`a. Stbon appears, helps me move some heavy objects around, and digs up a couple crusty lamps from under the house. He says the large evergreens around the house are Japanese Sugi Pine. Is this correct? They look like fir or cypress to me; not like any pine.
It is raining again, lightly. I drive around the neighborhood with the GPS, recording waypoints at landmarks and intersections. The GPS doesn’t work well in the car, so I hold my hand out the window, in the rain, while driving! On the pig farm road, I run into Denise, who invites me to visit them soon.
Began to attack the overgrown vegetation below the house. My first plant is
to clear a path along the edge, so that I can at least walk around the house. I
go to the hardware store in Waimea and buy a lot of things: sickle, ax
sharpener, rake, light bulbs, power strip, umbrella. The sickle works extremely
well – sharp Japanese one. I make slow progress along the edge of the house –
pull with rake, pull with my hands, and swinging the sickle. Got a little
carried away with the sickle and got my toe. Lots of blood, but no real damage.
That’ll remind me to respect sharp garden tools.
My mother calls and informs me that the trees are indeed Sugi, which is Japanese Cedar, not Pine. She also tells me lots of other useful info about what is on the property.
In the late afternoon I go over to the Johnson’s to visit. When I arrive, nobody is home, just chicken and the sound of NPR in the garage. I hear discussion of the Race summit and the Bush administration, weird reminders that the usual media streams are still out there. Two kids arrive; one is the younger Johnson kid, the other is a son of Chris and Melanie who is living in the old Oldfather house. By coincidence both he and I are wearing blue Photon lights around our necks. Just then the Johnsons themselves show up, Denise and Eric. We go inside and have a visit which last well into the night. Dinner is
yummy (tortillas with fixings). Eric and the kids find the VTP stuff running on my laptop very interesting; Eric is full of useful information about DTM and surveying. He shows me a device he has that you can use for low-tech surveying yourself (kind of like a looking glass with a balance bubble inside), and gives me the name of a guy he knows who could survey my place professionally for not too much money. Eric and I also talk a lot about Hawai`i animals – the geckos, wild turkeys and pheasants, wild goats, and the coqui frog. The coqui frog has apparently recently become established on some parts of the Big Island, and it is causing quite a panic and controversy. Eric tells me it is a very small tree frog, and cute, but it is capable of emitting a sound which is 100 dB. One or two is OK, but some people have large numbers of them around,
and the sound is terribly loud. It’s native to Puerto Rico. Eric told a story about finding one in our neighborhood, at the base of my driveway no less, and made several attempts to kill it by spraying it with ammonia, to no avail. Finally he just shot it out of the tree!
Got up in the morning and attacked the vegetation below the house. Sickle and
rake are thorough, was able to reach the far corner of the house, but going is
slow. I hear Theresa’s voice and go over to her house and borrow her weedwacker.
I haven’t used one of these things except briefly once when I was a teenager, so
it takes me a while to get the hang of the thing. I try to clear a path between
the upper garden and old fence, but it is clearly a huge task. I manage to find
a section of the old fence (entirely buried under grass) and consider clipping
the wires, to get to the area between it and the new fence, but I would have to
try to locate a wire cutter.
Remembering my mother’s request to clear around the good avocado tree below the house, I use the weedwacker to clear a path towards it. A solid hour of work, and I am only halfway there. In the process I encounter black plastic groundcover, fallen log and branches tangled in the grass, two large sections of corrugated roofing, cement blocks, several young avocado trees, and tree roots. I am covered from head to toe with chunks of plants splattered by the weedwacker, my hands are raw, and my arms are sore. But, I feel great. There is a Beck song stuck in my head, with a line that goes “Gonna weed-wack a can of Pringles in the afternoon.”
I consider the similarities of clearing vegetation and playing FreeCell. Theory: They both have the same basic appeal: bringing order to chaos, gaining control of randomness. The thought process is similar: “Do I move this over there?” “How can I straighten this up?” With FreeCell, the addictive component is present partly because the physical inactivity that dampens your endorphin level while playing it is contrasted with the small burst of endorphins that accompanies each win, keeping you going for the next fix. With clearing vegetation, there is a steady amount of endorphins from the exercise, with yet more endorphins from seeing the progress and resting afterwards. So, the yard work is healthier and more enjoyable.
I nap, and then go out again to collect the wood I’ve been finding in the tall grass into one big pile. There is a lot of it! Apparently there was a least one good-sized avocado tree down there, which somebody sawed into sections that
were just left scattered on the ground. Hearing the sound of a lawnmower coming from next door, I go up to the fence
under the giant cypress trees and wave at the fellow. He comes over and we get to know each other. His name is Tim, his wife Denise (?), very young baby and 3 dogs have been in the house for almost a year now. There are also two young cows, two pigs, two geese, two ducks, and a whole lot of chickens. There is even a wild pig in a separate pen at the back. All this on 1 acre! Tim has been very industrious on his land – tearing up the ginger and other clutter, set up an imu (where the wild pig will end up), lots of work on the old house. He is originally from Orange County and is in building construction; his wife is from Oahu and her work is something that she can do remotely by computer. Back at the house, I cook dinner. It alls goes into one big bowl. First, organic kale and chard, and organic tofu, from the health food store in Honoka`a. Then, kalua pig, bought at a roadside stand at Hawaiian Home building in Waimea. Then, leftover spaghetti warmed up with shoyu. All together: it’s delicious.
I still have no idea what time it is. My laptop gives a time that seems to be off by at least an hour or two. Calling 767-2676 doesn’t give the time any more. There are no clocks in the house. I guess it doesn’t matter!