Labor Day weekend, plus some

I am not quite managing a post/week at the moment, and there will still be some irregularities. If you read these posts regularly or occasionally (beyond looking at or stumbling across just one), please comment below, send me a private comment, or somehow let me know what kinds of topics you’re interested in. I don’t write “just” to “pander to” the audience, but I can modify what I write about. This post has nothing to do with coffee, but does relate to Hawai’i, Hawaiian culture, a plant, and contemporary cultural and natural seasonal occurrences. I can write more from my own experience when I can expand beyond coffee. Not a lot changes on most of the pages on this website, so the blog allows me to prove to the powers that be (i.e., Google) that the website is alive and current.

Recently there have been various occasions which have caused me to reflect back a lot to around 2011-2012 and even further back, way back, to high school. Even ten years ago, I had no idea future-me would be living in Hawai’i caring for the family coffee farm. I’ve always had a connection to Hawai’i, but the majority of my life has been spent in California. And a lot of my life has been spent swimming. When you’re 17, a “lot of your life” can still be measured in single digits. It hit me that now a “lot of my life” can be measured in decades. Gulp.

Because a partner in crime motivated me, on short notice I went to Honolulu to swim the Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Labor Day, an iconic open water race. It’s the reason behind the swim distance, 2.4 miles, of the Ironman triathlon. I’ve only done it once before, over 10 years ago. It brought up numerous memories. I hadn’t even remembered until I looked through old photos, that I took a picture of the results back then. I was tickled to see my now-friend’s name right behind mine. We were strangers then, living in different states, not Hawai’i. We now both live here, and in every race we both did last year, I came in right behind her. These kinds of occurrences delight me. Is that an example of synchronicity?

I left for that race in the middle of the famous Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race, the world’s largest canoe outrigger race, another Labor Day Weekend iconic event, happening here. The main event is the 18-mile long-distance race between Kailua and Honaunau. I took a few snapshots from a scenic outlook. That was the women’s race, racing southwards. Later in the afternoon, the men race the canoes back, northwards. I’m sharing a view of that as seen from the farm. I think it’s fun that people just see what’s happening in the ocean. In my photo from the farm, you mostly see the support motorized boats, but with binoculars, you could see a lot of canoes. [Reminder: you can click on a photo to enlarge it, and then use the arrows to look at the other photos].

Yesterday I finally swam a tough, local, small event that I’ve had on my radar for 13 years or more. It was supposed to happen a month ago, but a 16-foot tiger shark and other shark sightings delayed it. It wasn’t until less than two days prior that the postponed event was declared a GO. The event director shared the ancestral knowledge she was considering:

pua ka wiliwili, nanahu ka manō

“the wiliwili blooms, sharks bite”

This ancient saying draws a correlation between the blossoming of the wiliwili, usually in October/November, and the pupping season of tiger sharks. Shark parents might be behaving more aggressively during this time. Supposedly the wiliwili bloomed earlier this year (July/August?). I do know that I’m hearing about more tiger shark sightings than I’ve heard of before, and several West Hawai’i beaches have occasionally been closed due to shark sightings or activity. I haven’t learned of any recent human-shark interactions, which is a good thing.

Maybe it was the sharks or the date change, but there were considerably fewer participants this year than last (I did it in a 2-person relay last year). Last year there were 13 relays and 14 solo swimmers. This year four relays and eight solo swimmers. The crowded picture was just a few minutes before swim start in 2022. The emptier photo is from yesterday, a half an hour before the start, but it was still 30 minutes after check-in time.

My escort, posing in the photo, is an amazing former Ultraman athlete, with a supportive, easy-going, fun, sunny personality. Ultraman athletes would do this swim in the opposite direction, and immediately afterward ride bikes from Keauhou to Volcanoes National Park, a mere 90 miles and almost 8000 feet of climbing. I was thinking of this towards the end of my swim, fighting off calf cramps. And then they have two more days of fun and games.

My escort paddled in a 2-person kayak. At first, I thought a 1-person kayak would be fine; I could paddle and she could swim if I ended up not being able to finish. But then we thought there might be occasion where we’d both need to be out of the water. We flip-flopped on whether to bring one or two paddles, but in the end we were optimistic enough to just bring one. I was glad by event start there were 12 swim units (relays and soloists); much better than three! There is so much power, comfort, and reassurance in company!

The biggest news is last: Kīlauea is erupting again! It started at 3:15pm yesterday (9/10/23). USGS stated that preliminary sulfur dioxide emission rates were 100,000 tonnes/day. It had been last measured at 70 tonnes/day on 9/8, and other earlier dates. This photo was taken at 1:36pm on 9/11/23. Bye bye, Horizon. I’m glad I didn’t have to do a long swim with air like that.

We had been enjoying some particularly nice sunsets and sunrises in the past days, too. I imagine we’ll be back to eruption-caused, uniformly murky, yellow-grey skies, with a bright orange-ish orb perhaps shining through. Life in Hawai’i always demands your attention that it’s ever-changing. Notice! Appreciate!

8 thoughts on “Labor Day weekend, plus some

  1. I read all of them! Saw the news about the new eruptions and meant to email you about all of it. Will you and Rune head back out to watch them again by nightfall? Also, the report about the swim was much anticipated! I’ve been waiting since you mentioned on Strava why you are doing those long ones.

    I’m interested in what’s happening with the horticulture (?) classes and the potential for converting to cacao. Are the coffee plants better this year since rust doesn’t seem to be a dilemma?

    Keep going!

    1. Oh, thank you! No plans yet to go see the lava in the dark (night or early AM). A good night’s sleep wins at the moment. Master Gardener classes ended in May. We just have to finish our 40 hours of volunteering for approved activities. Yes, the coffee is healthier since we’ve been proactively taking steps for rust and beetle, plus the trees are just generally healthier because of good rain, etc.

  2. I read it regularly especially since we’ll be your neighbors soon (next year or so)! It’s funny we were eating at Teshima’s during a visitvat the exact time of the orchid festival opening next door. We love anything related to farming, the big island, and of course Hawaii.

    1. Oh, that’s exciting that we’ll soon be neighbors. Come introduce yourself when you’re next on island. I’m glad I asked for comments …

  3. That was a really fun read.
    I do enjoy your blog and since I’m not a coffee farmer, find this one especially interesting. That plus being your neighbor and getting to know you.

  4. I read regularly and enjoy all your musings, regardless of topic. Thank you for sharing different aspects of life and coffee farming on the Big Island with us.

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