on returning home and finding a far wintrier east aloha

We arrived in Seattle late on Wednesday night after a turbulent flight home from Kauai that had even a grizzled flight attendant hugging her beverage cart in mortal fear and all I could think of while clutching both armrests with a death-grip (i am not a grizzled passenger) was the previous worst airplane flight in my life, a very jolting bucking-bronco ride from Seattle to Billings that got so bad the lady next to me was grabbing my ticklish leg over and over with terror. On the other hand, this year the car started right up unlike last December when we were greeted rudely in the freezing-cold airport parking garage by a thuddingly dead car battery……… things have a way of balancing out.

Closer to home, East Aloha was far wintrier with bony-bare branches than when we left town. No more riding the big bike under the lovely canopy of late-stage yellow and orange that seemed to last forever. I’ll really have to bundle up Oliver Fern for the wind chill on the ride home from school for the next couple months! If I can even pedal the bike up our hill, that is. The Japanese maple in the front yard was a skeleton and a thick layer of wisteria leaves bedded the porch steps. The wisteria pays enormous dividends in the summer in the form of precious shade for our south-facing porch but come winter the lacy leaves tend to disintegrate into mush after a little rain and tannin leaches through and stains the steps- or else on windy days they get sucked into the house interstellar black hole-style (i vacuum’em up). Worst of all, even after the leaves are long-gone you’re stuck with those little stick-thingies they grow on. They assault my personal feng shui like nothing else and I have no choice but to get down on my hands and knees and pick’em up one-by-one, I try to do it when no one is around because that kind of attention to detail tends to freak people out. As I was saying, some time had passed and cobwebs tickled my face when I stepped into the foyer. We checked the back door for a break-in (had a problem with forcible entry last year) and I crept down to the basement (our century-old foundation leaks during storms) for a quick peek. There was a lot of moldy bread in the buffet but a surplus of Adam’s favorite ice cream! Pretty soon, Oliver was laying on the living-room floor inventorying his hot wheels and matchbox cars and trucks and conducting detailed 35 point power-train inspections, haha! We finally had to chase the boys to bed, especially since we were going to make Adam catch the school bus in the morning. Kauai is a couple time zones behind Seattle and I stayed up until one o’clock to finish my airplane reading project because it’s a library book and someone put a hold on it.

Pictured here to the side is a skull I found on display in a backcountry camp popular with local hunters. I was pushing my luck being so far in the woods close to dark and I was starting to feel more than just a little haunted by the prospect of the Ghost Ram of Waimea or the idea of a very ornery three hundred pound wild boar rooting for truffles in my general direction. And it was the weekend, so after inexplicably stumbling upon the second, sloppily-hidden hunter cache in the last five years my mind was going a little wild and I started concocting this ridiculous fantasy (not a fantasy in the good sense) about how a local Rambo was going to burst wildly out of the shelter of his hole underneath the nondescript thick bed of koa leaves I was peeing on. Pig-hunting above Waimea is serious business and you’ve really got a leg up on me if you’ve ever witnessed a greater concentration of walkie-talkies and anxious hounds than in this general area and I always have the strangest sensation of being watched in the forest. Whether by a wild boar frothing at the mouth for a truffle or a hunter, I’m not exactly sure.

At any rate, furthermore in my defense this stroll was only the second time in my half dozen years of woods-walking on the Garden Isle (ironically, the same place on the island as last time) that mosquitoes were more than just a casual nuisance and ordinarily I might have swatted at them rather blase except Dengue Fever is breaking out a couple islands away and so being borderline obsessive-compulsive when it comes to horrible viruses that cause debilitating illnesses i got in a bit of a lather at myself about whether or not I was too lazy to stop and dig through my backpack for the mosquito headnet and little vial of Deet I’ve been carrying unopened throughout the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges for the past ten years. In the end, I decided I was running into the teeth of a creepier-than-usual nighttime walk and flapping my arms wildly would have to suffice. Mosquitoes are one thing, but unlike cougars I don’t know where I stand with wild pigs and wasn’t about to be a complete fool and underestimate their porcine abilities when it comes to skirmishes in close quarters, in the dark no less.

10 thoughts on “on returning home and finding a far wintrier east aloha

  1. It’s a joy to connect to someone’s words and experiences so easily. I was on a flight like that from Molokai to Oahu in June. Yikes. Love the contrast between winters… makes time there even more special this time of year. Your little one taking inventory when he came home is precious. It’s always wonderful to travel, but it’s awfully good to come home to the comfort of the familiar. Aloha.. thank you for sharing with us.

    • Considering how short it is, that flight to Oahu must have been a little awful! But come to think of it, oftentimes those puddle-jumpers are the worst when it comes to rough, hairy rides. The flight to Billings was on a prop-plane, in fact. Aloha, Roni….

  2. I so admire your writing and your powers of observation. A lot of this hits home — I like to travel, don’t like to fly. Love Kauai, but miss the turning of the seasons whenever I’m away from home. I’ll see Kauai again in February, and chances are I will only miss various kinds of rain, but I’ll still miss it.

    • Thank you for reading, Suzanne (and the very nice note). February must be an interesting time to visit the island. To me, it would have to rank right up there with late November as a pleasant time for a privileged reprieve from the Pacific Northwest winter and the time machine magical-ness of the island’s lushness and warmth. I’m wondering if you will do any writing while you’re on the island or gather inspiration………

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