Impossible to miss Venus, glowing like a lantern, strung low over Makaleha, or Mars, directly overhead, a distant ember. The crickets rejoice with their nightly symphony performance, the stream rushes headlong in pursuit of the sea.
In this near silence, this peaceful hum of nature, I hear a ping. It's a text, telling me:
Recently displaced Koloa Camp resident Mrs. Catherine Fernandez was hit by a car at 7 this morning while on her daily walk. A familiar sight in her bright red jacket, the 83-year-old now walks from the low-income housing on the other side of Koloa town, where there's a lot more traffic in the early morning. She suffered a laceration to her elbow that required stitches.
I think of Mrs. Fernandez with her sore elbow, body hurting, heart lonely for the home she'd lived in for the last 57 years, a yard with mango, lychee, pineapple, papaya and banana that she had planted.
I recall that For Kauai ran an article on her, so I go looking and learn that her husband, Cereal, had passed away last September. A retired supervisor, he was the last plantation worker residing in the camp. As Mrs. Fernandez recounts:
“My husband was the last one that Grove Farm was waiting for. Within 29 days after he died they called up and said they wanted to have a meeting with our family so they could discuss the future of the camp.”
By Nov. 8, Grove Farm had issued eviction notices to all the camp residents and agricultural tenants. By April 8, only a few remained, waiting for their day in court, which is April 30th, I believe.
“This is the end of the plantation,” says Catherine. “Why celebrate Koloa Plantation Days when there will be no more plantations?”
I wonder again why Grove Farm, with all its land, had to destroy this little piece of real Kauai, and with it people's lives.
And as the crickets sing, and dogs bark in the distance, I find something craven in a business plan that requires some people to become homeless so that others can get homes.