Last night, it was all about the moon: brilliant, bold, beautiful, bright and, I learned, not accurately termed blue. It called me outside numerous times as it progressed across the sky, encountering wisps of clouds, passing through constellations, shining on through brief showers until, finally, Koko and I got up for good and walked beneath it until the dark faded and the sky behind the Giant flushed and still it didn’t dim, but remained steadfastly white, staring down the dawn.
As the sun began to rise, I ran into my neighbor Andy, who asked what I’d done for New Year’s Eve and I replied, nothing, just stayed home, and left out the part about visiting the moon. But I did tell him how my night began:
I was driving home, up Kawaihau Road, and of course the fireworks were going off there, though it was barely dark, and the smoke was wafting across the street and people were milling and traffic was fairly steady and then I saw, in the oncoming lane, a dark-colored dog, a Rottweiler mix, running madly down the street, and as it raced past I saw the look of terror on its face and it pierced my heart, which is tenderly disposed toward animals, anyway.
And I knew there was nothing I could do, with cars all around and no place to pull over, so I just prayed, even as I cried a little, worrying about that dog, which was in such a perilous situation, and thinking about all the other dogs that were being similarly freaked out, panicked, tormented by the fireworks, and for what purpose, really, other than our mindless entertainment and amusement?
I pulled over by the reservoir and called a friend, a local Chinese, and told him what I’d seen and said, “When is Hawaii finally going to wise up and ban fireworks?”
“You fucking haole,” he said, laughing, trying to joke me out of my funk.
“I don’t care,” I countered. “Fireworks are not a Hawaiian tradition. If you want to practice your culture, go back to China.”
(We can talk like that to each other because he’s my self-proclaimed BFF.)
Then he said, to calm and distract me: “Look at that moon, what a gorgeous moon,” and of course he was right, as it was just rising, a yellow orb floating on a lacy bed of clouds, and doesn’t it make sense, when you’re confronted with an ugliness that you can’t, at that moment, change, to focus instead on the beauty that is also always around us?
“So I was a little scratchy at the beginning of the night,” I told Andy, wrapping up my story. “I’ve always liked fireworks, but seeing that dog just drove it home how we engage in so many unnecessary, thoughtless actions that harm other creatures.”
We talked a little bit about how different dogs of ours had reacted to fireworks: some were greatly disturbed, others relatively unfazed. Koko gets a little trembly if she’s in the house, but isn’t bothered if she’s outside, which is the same way she responds to thunder.
“Do you know who introduced fireworks to Hawaii?” Andy asked, and I did not, so he told me: “Captain Cook.”
“You’re kidding,” I replied.
“Nope,” said Andy, who has been re-reading Captain Cook’s journals. “He set off some fireworks to awe the natives, as well as entertain them.”
“That fucking haole,” I said, and we both laughed. “What an interesting little power play on his part.”
And here they remain, along with the trash that accompanies them, and the burns and the fires and the lost and frightened dogs. And, of course, the moon, which by now has slipped behind Waialeale.