The moon, still big, though waning, led the way as Koko and I went out walking this morning while bright stars — Sirius and Betelgeuse among them – had our back. Before us, the clear summit of Waialeale was outlined against the pale blue of the pre-dawn sky as behind us, clouds slowly poured in over the Giant. It was totally still, without a hint of wind, and the grass was thick with dew.
“Do I denote a change in the temperature, the season?” asked farmer Jerry when I encountered him along the road. I agreed that it had indeed turned quite chilly since we passed the fall equinox.
He’d just come a round of meetings, including the two-day Hawaii Agriculture Conference, that had kept him indoors for several days. “It does something to you when you spend so much time inside,” he said, and from the grimace on his face, and my own experience, I knew it wasn’t something good.
He’d found the conference interesting, though he said it underscored his own assessment of the situation in Hawaii: “We have this land, but no farmers. Nobody wants to farm unless they’ve never done it before and think it sounds like fun.”
As a result, the conference attracted a lot of folks with ideas about how things should be done, but no real practical experience or time on the land. Jerrry and some of the other longtime farmers are particularly skeptical of the push toward bioenergy products, especially the Navy’s plan to fuel its ships with stuff grown here. First, they don’t believe Hawaii can compete against states with a lot of acreage in production, like Iowa and Nebraska. Second, many of the proposed biofuel crops are invasives, which pose their own problems and risks. And third, , they don’t want to see energy crops being cultivated at the expense of food.
As Henry Curtis noted in his excellent, and thorough, coverage and analysis of the conference for Disappeared News:
There is tension between the Hawai`i farming and bioenergy communities. This tension erupted two years ago when DBEDT encouraged the bioenergy to go after Hamakua land.
[Big Island] Senator [Russell[ Kokubun [a former farmer]: “The emphasis on clean energy, particularly by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative I think also creates overzealousness, let's put this that way, I think, it's not necessarily a bad thing but, we need to be very careful in our approach to ensure that agriculture meaning food production agriculture is not lost in the discussion about alternative energy agriculture. ...
As a result of that tension, Henry reports, the Legislature adopted a bill that requires a public hearing on the affected island whenever a bioenergy project is proposed for state lands. The governor vetoed the bill, but the Lege overrode it, so at least citizens can be involved in the process.
Shifting gears, a friend who was out at Kalalau this past weekend told of seeing camps that had been destroyed by DLNR, but the stuff was just left there. Guess the much-vaunted clean up has not yet been completed. He also encountered one camper in the valley who had apparently been missed in the recent sweep of “feral people.” My friend was especially interested to discover that the guys doing the rock removal were brought in from the mainland. So much for supporting the local economy and cultural sensitivity...
I was talking to another friend the other day about a visit from her aged parents. She hadn’t seen her dad in 10 years and was struck to find him smaller, frailer and sleeping a lot, which prompted her teenaged daughter to draw parallels to the young baby in the house.
“We do go backwards,” my friend said, which made me recall how the last time I saw my mother, I’d washed her hair and dried her skin, tugged sox onto her feet, slipped a shirt over her head, pulled up her pants over a diaper. Though her mind was still sharp, she’d regressed physically to a large toddler.
We’re all cycling through life, just like the changing seasons.