Hawaiian Journal
page 18


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Baldwin Park Again


I’m on Maui, specifically Baldwin Park. Almost as soon as I got off the plane, an old man gave me a ride to Pa’ia. I wasn’t even trying to flag him down. I like Maui better. Of course, as those women in the Pa’ia Natural Foods were saying, you can’t afford to buy a piece of this rock. But it’s a much nicer place to visit.

Here’s one of those sandpipers. The waves here today are middle sized, aqua blue, green where the sun shines through, hypnotic.

The edge of west Maui where it enters the sea looks like this:

The evening sun is yellowish, almost sinking into the West Maui clouds, giving a magical yellow light/blue shadow to the pale limestone sand and pitted coconut palm trunks.

The sun is in a cleft of the West Maui range, perhaps the Iao Valley. What a chance that it would clear up just now when I’m at the right angle to see the sun set exactly into that deep notch!


Saturday. February 14, 1981

These volcanos destroy themselves. After the lava flows stop, you’ve got a mountain thousands of feet above sea level, which by being there makes the sea air rise, cool off, condense clouds, and rain hundreds of inches a year, which erodes the steep gullies and canyons like those in the west mountains. So a low shield volcano becomes a jagged mountain range, which in turn wears down to a coral atoll. The sinking of the sea floor does about half the work I guess.

But wait, what happens when these mile deep lumps of basalt get swept by the conveyor belt to a sea-floor swallowing trench? An offshore mountain range formed in a geosyncline? Continental accretion? Will the mass of the Hawaiian Islands eventually be added to east Asia?

There’s lots of land snails crawling on the grass this morning, mostly in the shadow.


The Pool


Here ferns grow on wet rock, water trickles down three layers of lava; water splashes on rocks and shatters into droplets so small they float down like snow; strings of water fall from vines to instantaneous splash castles; ripples reflect sunlight rings on shaded rock.

Here in a pool of quiet deep green water, cold and mostly in the shade, small fishes swim. A copper dragonfly darts and hovers, its wings silent where the water sings.



“The secret to swimming on Maui,” said the driver, Jack, “is that there’s always a better pool a ways upstream from the road.” We climbed streamsmoothed but dry lava boulders for awhile. I wondered if the Hawaiian name of this stream might mean one-pool-by-the-road stream. His companion, Cynthia, laughed. The only hint that there must be water somewhere was a black plastic drinking water pipe. We passed a place where there was water deep below a hole in the lava. Then Jack saw a waterfall, and we went up to the pool and cave I sketched.


The Upstream Pool

“The secret to swimming on Maui
is that there’s always a better pool
a ways upstream from the road,” says Jack.

After a climb of dry lava boulders
and water glimpsed deep in holes like wells,
I ask if this stream’s Hawaiian name
might mean One Pool Near the Road.
Cynthia laughs. Jack, far ahead,
says he sees a waterfall and a cave.

Here lava layers sprout vines and ferns,
stone splashes shatter to droplets
so small they drift down like snow,
water strings splash castle to ripples
reflecting sunrings on rock undersides.

Naked we enter the cold mirror
to soak off the afternoon sun.
A copper dragonfly hovers and darts.


Here I am, some time later, somewhere near Kaumahina at a picnic table beside a substantial waterfall. It looks like there just might be a way to climb on top of it, where there must be another pool, but that’s an adventure for earlier in the day. The bridge says this is Puohokamoa Stream, so my other stream is nameless on this most detailed map. Drinking Water Pipe Creek will have to do. It was between mileposts 3 and 4, this one between 4 and 5. Kaumahina’s between 5 and 6. Here’s the other stream, Haipua’ena, which is smaller, and doesn’t have a picnic table. I stick my feet into its pool.


The Essence of Kaumahina


I’m back at Kaumahina on the end of this, my fortieth day on the Hawaiian Islands. For the first time in I don’t know how long I’m at peace with myself. Well, forty days is the prescribed duration for such pilgrimages.


Sunday, February 15, 1981

I wake up this morning at Kaumahina to find a 3 1/2 inch scolopender centipede in my pack. Good grief! That’s the biggest scolopender I’ve ever seen. The ones in northern California and Ohio are only about two inches long.

Today the breeze is up and I don’t feel the same inner calmness. I almost feel like I’m in a race and anxiously waiting for the starting signal. This is probably illusion.


Monday, February 16, 1981

The morning is clear and calm after a wild windy night which woke me a couple times. But I managed to relax even in the wind. In a way I became the wind.

There’s the palm I drew so long ago, Keanae, and the colors of sunrise. I should stay here maybe until cars start pulling in and out, or until I see traffic on the Hana Road. There’s the sun, still orange above the clouds, just over the northernmost reefs of Keanae. I could paint a sunrise from my drawing, if I wanted. It slightly purples the distant slopes. Hi, sun! Glad to see you!

There’s something strange about these tourists. They come here, only sometimes going farther than the railing, take out their cameras, click at each other or at a palm tree, go to the restroom, and drive away again. It’s much more rushed than the tourists at Proxy Falls, Oregon, or even Seven Pools here. The essence of Kaumahina park has at most a few seconds to soak into the camera. How much comes through this way is uncertain. I’ve spent days here all together. I still haven’t absorbed a fraction of it.

I’ve gotten as far as the essence of those two palms at the top of the park where you see Keanae. I haven’t started grokking the other palms, the eucalyptus, the bananas, or the philodendrons. Just now I picked up several colored eucalyptus leaves and stuffed them in a book, thinking what great paintings each one would make, greatly blown up.


Philodendrons on the eucalyptus. There’s some other kind of vine here also, swamping the tree on the left.

A camera would be tempting. The innards of a forest are visually bewildering to me when it comes to drawing. The banyan drawing I did two weeks ago certainly shows this.

It’s cloudy again already, and I haven’t seen any tourists worth asking a ride to Hana yet. There certainly is a crazy rush hour here. I haven’t noticed it before because I wasn’t trying to use it.

I think at least five buses have come and gone since I wrote, “There’s something strange about these tourists,” and at least a couple while I was making this philodendron drawing. I think I’ve captured some of it, though like my sketch of Indigo Springs three years ago, it’ll be hard for anyone else to “read.”

Every now and then someone acts vaguely threatened by the sight of me writing. Written words are just an abstraction of speech, which is in turn a very abstract way to represent reality. But written words, as e. e. cummings demonstrates, do have a (concrete) reality of their own.

I have $51 left, which means I’ve spent $499 in 42 days, or $11.88 per day. My last airplane flight raised the average.

Later today I got stuck in Keanae. An hour passed, I couldn’t get a ride out, and I was starting to feel angry. I relaxed myself as well as I could, which was hard because I was annoyed and had to pay attention to what traffic there was, but I did it and visualized myself inside a car going to Hana, and five minutes later, I was.

So I went to Hana, saw Stefano’s wife Chris, who said they moved to another piece of land so they can have a social life. I also ran into Bunny and her friend again, and a woman I talked to at Spencer Beach but forgot. I’m running into everyone again.

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