Two roads lead to the national Tropical Botanical Garden’s main office, one of them is mine. At the top of the hill, from the office to the library, to the visitor’s center, is a view of a magnificent valley that descends to Lawai Bay.
Once upon a time, Queen Emma lived there and rode her horse there. Years ago, I used to sneak in on my leopard, Beauregard. I always got caught, but I seldom got scolded. John called me a ‘siren’–I think he meant the noisy kind.–and I responded, “John, if you walked about four miles up hill and I walked about ten thousand feet up hill, we could fight over the back fence.”
I loved the old guy.
Anyway, along my brief stretch of land in a valley on the other side of the hill, old Hawaii, wild, natural, surrounded by cows and sheep and goats and horses, and gorgeous feral chickens, and birds that sing me to sleep and crow me awake, rain or shine, grew a wondrous natural beauty, a Turk’s Cap. Malvaviscus penduliflorus.
So beautiful, people in cars, on foot, on bikes, on horses–still–would stop blissfully enthralled with wonder. Pictures were snapped. Some sent back, and I do want to thank those that sent them. Respectful requests for cuttings were cheerfully responded to.
Did you know the entire plant was edible? Herbal tea could be made and grocked to fullness. Snip off the green tip and suck a delicious syrupy sweetness that put the delicious syrupy sweetness of the honeysuckle to shame.
A grim crew, an army of death and destruction, in county trucks armed with many powerful expensive new weapons of life- denying machines, mowed it down. Butchered it. It wasn’t pruned, it wasn’t cut back, it was hacked to death. It cost me one day, one worker, two, maybe three, handheld and powered tools, to prune it properly. All that remains are naked brown stems, reaching upward, hungering for their large green leaves, their brilliant red flowers, Turk’s Caps, sleeping hibiscus, Cardinal’s Hats, that bloomed throughout the year offering a vivid eyeful of playful bobbing jewels displayed against a hedge, a tall, rich green- leafed backdrop, a curtain of life that never need open to an artificial set. An entire enactment of life. It loved to grow. it loved to please. It did no harm.
I plan to live to witness it’s return. Hope you do, too.
The war we have going on here–on Kauai, in the world–exists of war trumpets instead of song birds. Ugly, noisy, stinking machines–the epitome of power and ugliness and sacrilege– consuming all in its wretched outreach.
Today, on my road, we stand witness to a love for concrete, cars, credit cards and childish hi-tech toys. What, for goodness sake, is an iPad? I’ve managed, for 85 years, to have lived with out one.
My hope? You’ll learn to live without one, too.
In 2016, drink a toast to life and living things.