I’m finally home after being gone for nearly two months. Italy taught me much, and I loved seeing my sisters in Wisconsin, but am so glad to be back on the Big Island. After tackling the usual fallout from a trip like this (mountains of laundry, mail, and bills and knee-high grass), I could finally savor the Hamakua Times, our monthly newspaper, to catch up on local activities. Once again, I came to a full appreciation of why I live here.
Let’s start with the monthly crime statistics article for Hamakua and Laupahoehoe. In June we had four burglaries, 12 thefts, two cases of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, and two cases of criminal property damage. Of the four auto/ATV thefts, all vehicles were returned to owners. It’s an island – where are these thieves going to take them?
Here are a couple of entries:
“Several cans of soda were stolen and two sets of locks and hinges were damaged when unknown suspects entered the gymnasium at Laupahoehoe Community Charter School.”
“Mailbox removed from the front lawn of a residence located in the Kukuihaele area.”
“Backpack stolen from the table of a local business located in Honoka‘a.”
And my favorite: “Two ice cream sandwiches were stolen from a business located in Laupahoehoe.”
I am so grateful to live in a small community within a small county. I mentally contrast this with the horrific stories from around the world this summer: tragic church bombings, gun massacres of innocent people in Tunisia, hate postings about Caitlyn Jenner, senseless killings/beatings by police/of police, continued conflict in the Middle East. Then pot-stirrers, provocateurs and politicians fan these stories for people who cannot accept those of other religions, cultures or lifestyles.
That’s the other contrast with this place where I live. We are one of the most diverse counties in the nation. And we have learned to live together, get along, and even appreciate each other. Here are a couple of items in this month’s Hamakua Times that stand witness to it:
August 22: Save the date – Hamakua Sugar Plantation Days Festival with ethnic performances representing the many cultures brought here to work the sugar plantations. Last year we celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the closing of the last sugar mill. I guess it will now be an annual festival showing the contributions of the Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and others to our Hawaiian melting pot.
August 23: Save the date – Floating Lantern Ceremony sponsored by the North Hawaii Hospice. This ceremony comes from the Japanese and Chinese traditions of floating white lanterns on water to guide departed souls back to the other side. Our uniquely Hawaiian version includes hula, Taiko drummers, Hawaiian chanting, live music and the sunset release of the lanterns into the ocean. People can purchase a lantern and inscribe the name of a departed loved one.
September 26: Save the date – Ninth Annual Peace Week and Peace Day Parade – “a week-long celebration and study of peace, compassion and awareness of global interdependence.” We were the first US community to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace. The week of activities is organized by the Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple; the whole town participates, especially the children with Read for Peace at the library, a peace poster contest, marching in the parade, and making cranes for the “199,000 Cranes” project. The Peace Committee is collecting 199,000 paper cranes in memory of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing victims. The cranes will be donated to those cities for exhibits.
An article on the course offerings at our local North Hawaii Education & Research Center (NHERC) intrigues me. Maybe I’ll take Basic Hawaiian Language, Portuguese Culture in Hawaii, or Japanese for Everyone I this fall.
Yes, I’m glad to be back in this community cocoon. It’s a place where I feel accepted and appreciated for myself; a place where I feel safe to do things I might not attempt in other places. I have no excuse not to live life fully here. I’m home.
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