5 Million Years on Kauai

I’m sure this will come as no news to all you Kauaiophiles: it feels nearly impossible to enthusiastically plunge back into daily life – whatever & wherever & however satisfying it may be – after a few days on the Garden Isle.

Until two weeks ago, R & I had proudly served as members of an admittedly small group of stubborn iconoclasts who refused to join the rest of Western Hemisphere humanity in their reverence for Hawaii.  Despite the songs, the lyrics seemed unintelligible.  Plus we don’t especially like hot, we don’t like humid, we don’t like to be tourists, & we have a fantastic beach right around the corner, thank you very much.

Well, it’s always humbling to be proven wrong.  We’d felt kinda sucked into this vacation – our job was to deliver our grandson to our daughter, then join her for a few days @ a friend’s place on the Kauai east coast.  (To be frank, this is probably the only way we would’ve gotten motivated to get over there, or anywhere else, for a few vacation days.) We somewhat reluctantly accepted our mission…5 days with the family then 3 on our own…the family part sounded great, but 3 days as members of  the predominant local tourist demographic -yikes!

kauai hen 2Silly us.  Kauai really does live up to the songs, & not only because of ubiquitous & colorful chickens.  This 5 million year old lesson in volcanic erosion & sloowwwiiinnnnggggg down (gotta stick to 40 mph on the two lane island roads) was oh-so-needed, & in time, welcomed…irrespective of torrential rain, R’s bad cold, comings & goings, & omg do we really have to fly home today??  & it wasn’t hot (a comfortable 70-75 F the whole time), it wasn’t humid (if you don’t count the downpour dampness), it was terrific to have a conveniently located & comfortable home to sleep & create random refrigerator meals in (e.g., an especially yummy homegrown avocado, snow pea & cucumber salad), we loved the family time (of course), & why had we thought slipping & sliding down muddy trails to new beaches wouldn’t be wonderful?  The house even offered up a well-worn copy of The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882 as a serendipitously fun read (along with Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, lent to me by my good friend Tom).  Two books in one week – that counts as a real vacation.

I love that Kauai is 5 million years old.  Our ancestor primates were just starting to walk on their two hind legs about 5-6 mya.  This juxtaposition of time – of being able to observe what 5 million years looks like on this dramatic island landscape – was very helpful to my ongoing process of trying to integrate scientific information with an all-too-human perception of life & time.  5 million years is new volcanoes becoming old ones, unimaginable & ongoing climate & sea level change, & a lot of teensy mutations to countless generations of hominins & all other living things.  5 million years from now Kauai will be gone, new Hawaiian islands will have spring up & gotten old, & as for humans…well, hard to know what we’ll be up to at that point, if we’re even still hanging around in this home solar system.

The last night of our visit, as we lay in utterly black & silent darkness beneath the shadow of Mount Wai’ale’ale, one of the neighborhood male members of Gallus gallus domesticus let loose with a serious crowing challenge.  Over the next few minutes his fellow cocks joined in, each echoing the other in a joyful chorus weaving around the hills, eventually winding back to our local guy for the last word.

It was the song of the island, & we were finally able to understand at least some of its lovely lyrics.

This entry was posted in A Changing Planet, Just an Everyday Life, Our Primate Nature and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to 5 Million Years on Kauai

  1. Robin Baker says:

    So glad you discovered the charms of the garden isle! Last year one of the highlights for us was watching the mother hens gather their broods beneath them to protect them from the rain — the mother hen would be all puffed up and all you could see were the cute little eyes of the chicks peering out. (Well, yes, it does tend to rain quite a bit in paradise…) We are going back next month — can’t wait — especially to see the whales!

  2. jsp says:

    I am so happy you enjoyed discovering Kauai! and it sounds like you actually had a chance to unwind too. Thanks for sharing this story of reality overcoming skepticism!

  3. I lived on Oahu for 11 years (military)… and then we moved away.
    Sigh. It’s very cold where I am right now.
    My husband builds up frequent flyer miles through his job, so we come back to visit often.
    We split the vacation time between Oahu and Kauai.
    I still know people on Oahu that I like to visit, but Kauai is stealing my heart.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      mostly it’s the pace of life & movement…really makes a difference it seems.

      • Yes it is very laid-back…
        compared to the Washington DC metropolitan area where I live right now.
        The longest life expectancy in the U.S. is the state of Hawaii. The shortest life expectancy is Washington D.C. Probably all the traffic and politics. It is very, very hectic here. And right now, cold on top of that.

  4. Bill Kennann says:

    My experience was also just amazing. Everything you said is true and more. As an artist I was definitely inspired and enthralled. Only regret is that I couldn’t just stay much longer than the week I was blessed with.

  5. Pingback: Burning the Fence | the everyday primate

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