“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.”St. John Chrysostom
It has been quite some time since Bea has been on island. Bea, AKA, Mom, or NTB, as my cousins text shorthand for Aunty Bea. She’s content buzzing around her own territory and amongst her plant kingdom, and she isn’t fond of traveling. Her last visit was after we had done our first block pruning in 2018. Her Bea’s knees were in my very first blog post. The land sure looked devastated — at the time we had so much extraneous growth that had to be removed.
For the first time she’s seeing firsthand all the coffee land after all blocks have gone through their stump and growth cycles. She can see all our boundary lines now. I’m glad she’s seeing the land after we’ve had some rain, and the trees look better than they did after parched October/November. When we walked through the land, she was pulling weeds everywhere she went (there is a lot of growth that doesn’t belong). Pulling weeds is a never-ending, futile job! My cousins often comment how their parents would always pull weeds on their way out of the coffee land, too.
I snuck this photo in last week without calling attention to whose ʻōkole (bottom) that was in the lower left corner. There she is, pulling weeds while Rune’s showing the wind-downed African tulip.
Though Bea would probably be happiest with the plants, since she hasn’t been here in so long, we did more sightseeing than we might normally do. A fair amount of our sightseeing did involve seeing plants, but I won’t elaborate on those here. I’m getting pretty far from coffee in this post, but this is my mom and the person our farm name honors. Indulge me!
The day after she and my brother arrived, we hiked down to Captain Cook’s Monument in Kealakekua Bay. If you aren’t familiar with the walk, it’s a two mile hike down and a tough climb back out, about 1300 feet of climbing. She’s in her 80’s! She also found a “longevity stick” at the bay and carried it back up for some meditative exercises she has recently started practicing. The next day she wasn’t even sore from the hike.
She hadn’t been to Volcano since the dramatic changes in 2018, so we visited Volcano National Park (VNP) and cruised around the Puna district a bit.
The newest part of VNP is the Kahuku Unit, which is just north of Na’alehu. “A rolling, pastoral landscape on the slopes of the largest volcano on the planet.” I’ve been seeing the new-ish Volcano National Park sign for years and have wanted to visit, but the gate was almost always closed. During the pandemic, it has been even more hit and miss. As we drove by this time, the gate was open! So we seized the opportunity, despite drizzle. We were prepared for possible rain anyway.
The ranger at the visitor center seemed really eager to greet anyone who drove up. Shortly after we walked in, a tourist entered right after us. He thought he was at THE Volcano National Park. His GPS had led him astray. I quickly gathered this was his first trip to the Big Island. It’s still a 50 minute drive to Kīlauea Crater. We knew this area was ranch land and had hiking, and we knew it’d be a totally different experience than the usual trip to VNP. He probably thought he was on his way to the erupting volcano.
We ended up doing a hike to the Forested Pit Crater, which turned out to be a similarly difficult hike as the one to Capt. Cook’s Monument, but uphill first, then downhill back (the photo shows an easy downhill section). It was described as an arduous hike, but I think it was just to impress upon tourists that it’s not a quick walk to the pit crater. We saw the elevation, distance, etc., but I messed up and thought it was a 2-mile hike total, not one way. Oh well. We were the only ones there. On the way up we debated whether the end-destination, the pit crater, would be worth it. We were all prepared to be underwhelmed, but we all thought it was worthwhile visiting. To me, the best part was hearing all the birds that were in there. Keep in mind that we all have gone to VNP (Kīlauea Crater) multiple times over decades. Visiting Kahuku might be underwhelming for first-time Hawai’i visitors.
Lastly, a few photos of what we could see at the “usual” VNP. Brief eruption overview: Kīlauea erupted from 1983-2018. Activity at Kīlauea summit started again in December 2020. It stopped in May 2021, then resumed again in September. We had one night to see what we would see. For us, it was a lava lake in Halema’uma’u Crater inside the larger Kīlauea Crater, with some sputtering, no fountaining. This view was from the Keanakākoʻi Overlook, a mile walk along Old Crater Rim Drive. And the walk itself was pretty spectacular for star gazing. We’re on an island in the middle of the ocean — not much light pollution, and the full-ish moon hadn’t yet risen.
Time and bees fly! Queen Bea is already returning to her dog and plant babies. Come back soon! Four years is far too long!