To  iive on Kauai is to be rich.

If we could share what we have with the world, it would be a much better place. At the moment I am looking at a bank of Walking Iris, dappled with sunlight, brimming  with joy and life’s perfume.  I walk though a screen door  into a leaf strewn courtyard and, standing tiptoe on a hollow block,  peer in to see  the babies. This morning the mother Thrush was in the nest and she gave me a look that said, “Can’t you knock?”  Mama and papa work hard feeding these screamers.

Feeding my zoo is hard work, too. It’s a 24/7 operation. Hungry mouths-nine counting my own- must be fed.  it’s interesting that the eight others don’t seem to get it: I also indulge.  I’ve got the feeding end of it down to a science, a routine, but convincing them I’ve got to eat is  the hang up. So, part of the morning routine is sharing. “See, guys,” crunching a mouthful, swallowing  coffee laced with honey and, I’ll admit, in the winter, when a cold wind blows, a wee dollop of Kahlua,  “I eat, too….”

…a major distraction, within arm distance of where I’m working, a brilliant red cardinal is teetering on a leaf and tweeting. I think he wants a cracker.  If so he’s going to have get with the program and show up at the cracker station at cracker feeding time…

My husband, the sailor, taught me to love the early morning hours. We were always up at 4AM, except on weekends, and I would be out in the fields at 6AM-horses have to be fed two hours before riding-and Bill would be behind his desk at five. But that schedule has shifted. No fields. No desk. And the high cost of  electricity has got me up and moving with first light. It’s beautiful then. Early morning light flatters my house. Me, too.

The birds, roosters, too, have been up singing and crowing for hours- I love them- but I’ve often wondered why. Dawn seems to have nothing to do with their early morning chatter.

The first thing I do is get up. Stretch. Healthy animals always stretch when rising and everybody stretches around here. For me, morning ablutions and bed making are a constant. Then I do a set up. All the animals bowls and pails and buckets are lined up where they belong. Spoons, measuring cups, oil and molasses for Ari’s mash-hot in the winter- alfalfa chaff for the grown up kids’ breakfast stare me in he face.

Then it’s boots on tall and Boots and I are off to the races. My jungle jungles-thickly-abundant with cliffs and slides and slippery slopes. I carry a stick and have several steep traverses where I’ve strung a rope to haul me up and ease me down. It’s an obstacle course. The most dangerous obstacle? Dodging Boots as she careens across my path.

If I get back, I’ll feed.  If I fall and break a leg, orders are to shoot me. I want  to die with my boots on.

If to live on Kauai is to be rich,  I am the richest.


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