This coronavirus has me thinking about the impact of small things.
Unlike an invasive seed stuck on the bottom your shoe that you can remove with a scrub brush, you cannot tell whether an infectious COVID-19 particulate has landed on your finger.
Like the fungus that’s killing ‘ōhi‘a trees, some microscopic organisms are destructive. The fungal pathogens growing inside ‘ōhi‘a can hitch a ride in a pin drop of mud in the tread of your shoes, and you’d never know it.
Whenever I think about the impact of small things, I think about a quote from Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”
Mosquitoes carry malaria that’s deadly to Hawaii’s native forest birds. A single bite from an infected mosquito can kill the beautiful ‘i‘iwi. Mosquitoes—or rather the disease they carry—have led to the extinction of at least a dozen native birds in Hawaii and eliminated the remaining species from the warmer lower elevations. With a warming climate, the elevation above which mosquitoes can survive is moving higher up the mountains. On Kauai, there is no longer any mosquito-free habitat remaining.
Earlier tonight, I was searching under the lanai for a gardening tool when I found a bucket with a few inches of water, a petri dish for mosquitoes.
But not all small things are destructive.
The seeds of ‘ōhi‘a themselves are small. Yet, they wedge themselves in a crack of hardened basalt after a fresh lava flow, take root, break up rock into soil and create a forest. ‘Ōhi‘a can grow up to 100 feet tall and live for up to 1,000 years. In the mean time, they create shade for new plants, supply substrate for mosses and lichen, provide habitat for native insects and birds, and change climate by pulling moisture from the air, ensuring we have water for agriculture and water to drink.
All thanks to a seed that’s the size of an eyelash. Hope is small. Faith and trust, too. All things we need in great supply right now. This is what I was thinking about as I planted a couple young koki’o ke’oke’o, white hibiscus, a Kauai endemic, in the yard tonight. I have great hopes for them. Us, too.
Hawaii’s confirmed case count bumped up by six to 580 today. Unfortunately, we added one new death, now totaling 10. On Kauai, we’re still at 21 confirmed cases. Our mayor has done a good job of flattening the curve and most people support his efforts, except for a few. Yesterday, 21 people marched, protesting county and state restrictions.
Be well. Be sane.