All posts tagged: Molokai

Hawaii: A million words. Part 2: the gates of Paradise*

When I was young visitors to my parent’s farm would rave about it.  They would show up at the front door exclaiming “It’s paradise!”  “A tropical wonderland” “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life!”. I thought they were mad. I’m older and wiser now. I no longer compare the wildness of true Hawaii to the manicured estates that we are presented as ideals in the media.  I appreciate the honesty of the farm, a working piece of land that made a living for my parents, and don’t need to tidy away all the tools and compost heaps that make it what it is. The farm is set up a valley.  You turn off the main road which winds round the coast, and head mauka (mountain side) up a narrow, rough dirt road.  In a small car the centre median scrapes the bottom, rocks and fairy grass meeting metal. On one side of the road the steep valley wall, an inhospitable mass of sharp shoulder-high grass, thorny trees, and rocks rises.  On the other, …

Hawaii: a million words. Part 1. Flying home

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And so I try to give you pictures But there are some moments so sublime, so fraught with incandescent beauty, that no picture can begin to capture the depths and layers of wonderment, the euphoria felt with every sense, and ever fibre of your being. That is what words are for.  To work with the pictures to convey a brief, shadowy semblance of the actuality of such moments.  A fragile simulacrum in palest pastel scents and colours. For me, visiting Hawaii, visiting home, is one of these moments of perfect euphoria after another, the feeling of rightness and perfection only heightened and illuminated by the obvious imperfections of the place, the human flaws that make it interesting. This is my simulacrum for you, my attempt to replicate an assemblage of moments so vivid, so saturated with scents and sounds and textures and colours, that your very soul smiles. You fly into my parents island on a little plane: 8 or 12 passengers who laugh and joke together and introduce …

What happens on the farm

My parents are farmers.  They have a small organic farm in Hawaii, and that is where I am now. The farm is paradise.  Hot, insect infested, weed filled, dirty, hard-work paradise. On the farm the ants are the size of cockroaches, and the cockroaches are the size of rats, and the rats are the size of dogs, and the local dogs go feral and take down human sized goats. On the farm, and in Hawaii in general, things attract dirt like a politician attracts sycophants.  Whites quickly become pale red-yellow.  When you take of your shoes at the end of the day you can see the pattern of the straps, not from your tan line, but from the dust in your pores.  Banana sap dripped on your clothes will never, ever come out.  Iron rich red dirt rubbed into your clothes will never, ever come out.  Papaya sap dripped on your clothes will eat a hole in the fabric.  The air is so moist that paint grows mildew as fast as you can repaint it. …