It has been an unusual week, and so horribly tragic for Lāhainā, Maui. Our hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. So many hurricanes get downgraded to tropical storms, or the tropical cyclone cycle never even gets to the point of a hurricane. Monday I heard the warnings on the radio about surf, wind, and wildfire risk. You note them in your mind, but it never crossed my thoughts that the next days would actually go the way they went.
Thank you to so many of you who thought of us specifically, and those who live on Maui, and Hawai’i. For us in Kona, we did smell smoke at times, especially on Tuesday, and we did see haze on the horizon, again, especially Tuesday, and off and on through Thursday.
Maui had numerous serious brushfires, and we had brushfires in the South and North Kohala districts (the north part of our island) and also in the Ka’u district (south). There were some roads and highways closed and evacuations on our island, but we in Kona were not affected. The photo to the left was taken Sunday, August 13, in the late afternoon, as we drove by. It shows brush fire damage just north of the Mauna Kea Beach Resort. I believe there were approximately 500 acres burned in that area last week.
I had written about brush fires back in 2021, on July 19 and August 9, I wrote: “I had recently written about fires in areas experiencing drought here on the island, while we’re having some record rainfall. At the time I wrote about one in early July, and there had been one in early June. Then July 30 another one started, which is the largest fire ever on the Big Island, covering the Hāmākua and South Kohala Districts, that scorched over 40,000 acres. It ended up burning for over a week, and evacuations were ordered July 31 and August 1, including Waikoloa Village, because of dangerous winds. In the end, I believe property/home damage was fairly minimal, especially given the amount burned. It didn’t impact us much here. We could smell smoke on a few days, and at least one day looked like the old voggy days of past and created an unusual sunset. But in general, the winds weren’t carrying the smoke this way.”
We have a good friend who lives on Maui, and I’m assuming his property is fine. I’m assuming if it were not the case, I’d get wind of it through our friend network. He was off island during all of this, so I know his physical self wasn’t affected. I know he has probably been bombarded by questions about whether he, his house, his friends are OK, so I’m not going to add to it. This is a friend who many years ago created a laminated card for his girlfriend when she was hobbling around with a cast around her foot. So many people asked her the same questions. She could just show the card, which contained all the answers.
I had thought of that recently when someone who regularly returns to our area for several months of the year was at a group function. As each person saw her, they’d ask exactly the same questions, the same ones I asked. Ha ha! I told her the story about the laminated card, but we both agreed that the main thing is for us human beings to engage with each other, not just to know the answers. So thank you to those who reached out to us as Hawai’i made world news. I often learned, or am learning, a bit about your current lives in the exchange, too.
We have guests from the other side of the world (who are also being asked from half way around the globe how they are with all these fires). Twelve hour time difference from whence they came. This is Hubby’s lifelong friend from first grade. The last time this friend and his girlfriend at the time were in the U.S. together, she celebrated her 30th birthday. In the Norwegian tradition, we gave her a big pepper mill since she was 30 and not married. She did later ask him to marry her, on a February 29 (in 2000), when, according to a centuries-old Norwegian custom, women can propose to men. Well, they now have two adult daughters and they are on this big, lifetime, family holiday. With adult children, who knows when family holidays will happen again?
Before they came, there was talk about the couple finally getting married. They had researched possibilities and knew what was required in both countries. While they’ve been here, there was still talk, potential dates/places, nothing concrete. It was getting to just days before the day they had in mind. A lot of teasing and funny stories. The engagement had been so long, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it still wouldn’t happen for any flimsy reason. Finally, we heard there was actually a date, time, and place chosen, a deposit made. We had one days’ notice.
It was basically where my lifelong friend got married over 20 years ago, their anniversary just two days prior. The Norwegian couple had their ceremony where I wrote my “best man” speech. Hubby didn’t want to give a speech back then, but he surprisingly, night-of, did. So the couple got two speeches.
Back to nowadays, the officiant ended up being a few minutes late. In the end, that was a good thing. We were watching two or three pods of dolphins in the water. The further pod had a few above-water spinners leaping out of the water. The closer pod was swimming around in tight formation. While we were waiting, we heard a woman screaming, and we thought we heard “Help! Help! Help me!” There weren’t many people around, but all who could hear her ran to this screaming lady. She was flailing about in the water and appeared to have been there alone, with an inflatable ring, the kind kids use in a pool, with mask and snorkel on. A few guys helped her out, and the drama gradually ended. We gathered that she had seen a shark, panicked, couldn’t breathe, and was having difficulties getting out of the water since it was a rocky shoreline. I don’t know why she was in the water there alone, where there’s a long stretch of undeveloped shoreline, few people around, and it was dusk (shark feeding time).
The officiant arrived, and she must have come around the time of the screaming because she asked what was going on. The service was beautiful and meaningful. I had to take the pictures since I was the least involved of the family of four and the two of us. I apparently had inadvertently moved the focus spot from the center of the camera viewfinder to the bottom (Hubby said, “to their toes”). Hubby says I still got some decent photos. I don’t like being behind the camera in general, because it takes away from my perception of what’s actually happening. But even from behind the camera, I still felt the specialness of the moment.
I’ll close with a Reminder that’s recited at the end of our newly started weekly Sunset Meditation at the local temple:
Let me respectfully remind you —
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost
Each of us should strive to awaken …
Take heed. Do not squander your life.