Sun-sun. That’s what greeted me this morning when I opened the drapes to see the mountain outside accept the full radiance bestowed upon her. Throughout all the weather our island throws at her, Kalalea stands. Full sun. Overcast sky. The shroud of rain. Kalalea is my first greeting as I open the drapes to the day. Before feeding Lulu, before filling the teapot with water, I greet Kalalea.
I’ve started a new book, although I’ve had it for eight years. A friend reminded me that now is a good time to crack open all those books in my to-read pile, which, in my case, is a to-read bookcase. The book is The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston, first published in 1928, and already I am in love. Books have a way of doing that to me. And I’ve only read the foreword, written by Robert Finch in 2013.
In it, Finch writes of the book’s success, “The importance and lasting appeal of The Outermost House, I believe, is its power to remind us how much, in our computer age, we still rely on the earth’s deep, constant rhythms, its basic integrity and equanimity. We continue to count on the safe and stable context that it provides, even as we tamper with and begin to rupture its basic systems. It allows us our freedom, to perform our daring and reckless feats of enterprise, growth, and exploitation. Yet for all our obsession with freedom, we want it as children want it and need it—within safe bounds. We want to know that, no matter how far out we walk, or how fast we race around the globe, the earth will be there to catch us if we slip and stumble, to lift us back from the brink of doom. The recurring cycles of the year, rooted in “the pilgrimages of the sun,” are not simply entertaining phenomena, to be noted at our convenience and for our own short-lived enthusiasms. It is for this that we need to know that insects will hibernate, that turtles ands warblers will migrate and return, that the tide will retreat, the ice let go, the earth tilt back toward the sun, and the grass reawaken.”
Good morning, Kalalea, I say to the mountain to our west and in the writing of these passages, Lulu has greeted the sun on the lanai, as it crests over the rise from our east.
During our mandated stay-at-home orders, we Kauaians are allowed to move about the island to exercise—hike, walk, swim, surf, paddle—as long as we maintain six feet of distance. Exercise, we are told, is good for us. So, too, is spending time in and with nature. Sometimes, the two can be combined, boosting both our physical and mental health. With schools closed and parents at home, I see more kids and families on our neighborhood walk-about. We wave to each other from a safe distance. My writer friend Anne in California says she sees more people on narrow hiking trails, people trying to get out, find some comfort.
I keep asking in these pages what could my ancestors have possibly done with themselves during the 1918 Influenza, and it dawns on me now like a brick falling to the ground with a thunk: They worked. I come from a long line of farmers. During the 1918 Influenza, my people did what they always did. They plowed fields. They harvested corn and beans and tomatoes and canned it all. They collected chicken eggs. They fished. They hunted.
And you know what: That’s what people are doing now. I have friends on Facebook requesting compost for their new raised garden beds. Some baking bread. Others getting chickens. (In fact, the New York Times wrote about the run on chickens here.)
Virsues will come. Viruses will go. Nature carries on. Nature is our lifeline. There’s a white-rumped shama nest in the kokiʻo ʻula, gardenia outside my home office window.
Out statewide tally jumped to 204 cases, including six people in intensive care and two on ventilators. Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green estimates the peak in the number of cases is still to come–about three weeks away. Kauai’s cases holds at 12.