“I can’t stand it anymore. I have the weather report on my phone for all my friends. The only decent temperature is by you in Honoka‘a.”
I consoled her by saying we’ve had lots of rain and there’s even snow on Mauna Kea, and encouraged her to visit.
Then she wanted to know why she hasn’t seen me on Facebook recently. The truth is, I haven’t been posting because I feel guilty reading the FB posts of friends who are being hammered by snow and cold, while I’m wearing shorts and sandals, cavorting in Paradise. I can’t post my activities without feeling that I’m rubbing sidewalk salt in their wounds.
In fact, right after that conversation last week, I dropped my daughter off at school and met Stacy for a morning of exercise: exercise walking ocean-side. We headed for Puako, a tiny one-road beach town on the dry side of the Big Island, south of Hapuna Beach. This village has only one convenience store, The General Store, though it’s worth a stop. They have a hydrophone stationed on a buoy just off-shore, and the songs of humpbacks fill the place. That’s better than what’s on most radio stations any day.
I pulled into the public beach parking area, found a spot in the shade (score!), and we strode to the shore: a mix of lava rocks, coral chunks, tidal pools, a few sandy areas, and kiawe trees almost down to the edge of the water. We saw folk fishing off the lava, and surfers out in the water, waiting for a good wave.
Heading south along the narrow strip of public shoreline, we slowed our pace; the path turned to fist-size coral pieces that required careful foot placement. But that gave us time to take in the sights: a pair of mullets jumped out of the water a couple of times just off-shore, whales breached to breathe farther out, and the surfers finally caught their wave. A handsome Hawaiian woman nimbly hauled her board out of the surf and carried it away. She was built lean like a young athlete, though her gray hair and laugh-lined face told a different story. I’ll bet she’s been surfing this spot for decades.
Stacy mused about bringing her nieces down to the ocean when she was much younger. She’d find a semi-sandy section of beach, move the rocks to expose more sand, and let the little girls build sand castles and splash around in the small tidal pools nearby. It must have been idyllic to grow up here. No wonder local folk like the phrase, “No worries.”
That day with Stacy was beautifully calm. But even when weather systems bring dangerously high surf, we can still enjoy the ocean. Last month when Amy and Kim came to visit from Wisconsin, the authorities closed all the beaches because of the terrible pounding of the waves along the west coast. Some of the beaches actually washed out to sea, leaving only little mounds held in place by coconut tree roots. These beaches are only now recovering.
But I knew a safe place from which to view the wave action – a high bluff on a cul de sac right off the highway near Kawaihae. We were in no danger of a rogue wave carrying us out. The monster surf crashed on the rocks at the base of the bluff, splashing 40 to 60 feet in the air every eight seconds or so – total exhilaration! We sat there for a good 40 minutes, watching, listening, feeling the salt spray.
Now they’re back in Wisconsin and doing battle with yet another seven inch snowstorm. And I feel an added wave of guilt as I head out for another adventure:
- Like the recent night I went to dinner with a friend in Kona and dipped into the bay in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel afterwards.
- Like stopping my car on the highway to Hawi to watch the humpback whales cavort . . . Okay, shutting up.
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