The Sonoma Acai bowl is the winner. Thick berry smoothie on the bottom, homemade granola, Watmaugh strawberries, banana, blueberries, and some coconut mixture which Kate has created using her magic morning chef skills. Just the ticket for the final Saturday of the summer.


And yes, I know it’s only the second week in August but long gone are the days when schools started after Labor Day. This year the kiddies are back on Monday, Golf practice starts on Tuesday and I’m already planning for Spring Break.


Not that I’m not excited about the schoolyear, but after 23 years in the trenches, summer has become a needed rest time and this summer I learned two things about myself.


First, my Homeostasis does better when busy. Spent the first half of the summer reading, doing Sonoma Hot Yoga and not touching the pile of art supplies and journals which I was planning on turning into a series of landscape paintings and The Great American Novel. Spent the second half of the summer fly fishing on the Stanislaus River, hanging out in San Diego, seeing Taylor Swift, and visiting my son who lives in paradise (Kahuku on the North Shore of Oahu).


And maybe I pushed the busy envelope a little too much: the T. Swift concert was in Santa Clara the night before a morning flight to Hawaii and the flight back last Tuesday landed in Oakland at 11:30 pm and I had to be in the classroom Wednesday at 8:30 am but like I said, I’m better with busy.

And yes, the first leg of our flight home did go from Honolulu to Maui and yes, we did see a little fire on the hill across from the Maui airport but thought nothing of it. We left Maui at 3:00 pm with little awareness of what was about to happen. It’s a 35- minute flight between islands and the winds were so bad that the passengers erupted in applause when we landed.


The similarities to Sonoma’s fires are obvious, big winds, aging power lines, no way out. Why are we not paying attention? The planet is warming creating stronger storms which lead to more Lahainas. Simple, scary, solveable.


But the reality is we aren’t learning and Hawaii is a perfect example. In looking for teacher-priced-lodging we found a glamping site on an old pineapple plantation a few miles from Haleiwa. Off grid, solar powered, beautiful tent, comfy bed, amazing outdoor shower, wild but friendly cat named Chance who lived under the platform and scared all the Mongooses away, middle of nowhere, it was the perfect spot but on the fourth day everything changed.


The owner of the site had installed a big metal pod (about the size of a shipping container) on a bluff about 30 feet from our tent site. First came the kinda-methey-handyman-Jaques who worked one night till 10:00 pm then came four friends of the owner who arrived late on the fifth night and cared little about staying quiet for their neighbors.


Then each day as we were driving to “Farm to Barn” in Haleiwa (the best food of our vacation and the inspiration for this morning’s Acai bowl) we would see more fences, more waterpipes, more new gravel roads to the point where we realized that this would be the last time the glampsite would be pristine. There was a little creek in a ravine on the property which was straight out of Jurassic Park except for the white sheen of pollution on the water. Hate that.


But, that’s progress, and paradise is feeling it. We got stuck in a traffic jam heading to the airport to pick up my daughter who was flying in from Portland, it took three hours for a normally 40 minute drive. And don’t get me started about the unhoused, Waikiki rivals San Francisco in the number of people living on the streets (not really true but it seems like it).


We spent the last four days in an incredible Air BB two blocks from the ocean and each morning I would head for a swim as soon as I woke up, passing about 10 homeless sleeping in the park next to the Honolulu Zoo and seeing the same two guys stretched out on towels on the concrete outside our apartment.


But, don’t get me wrong, paradise is amazing. I swam with turtles, walked on white sand beaches, ate fresh coconut out of the shell (oddly, not much taste), and had an incredible vacation.


Hawaii is the canary in the coal mine and the more developed and congested and polluted it becomes the more concerned we should be. In 1990 it created H-POWER which burns most of the island’s garbage claiming that the CO2 emissions are better than what is produced in a landfill. A better solution is what they do at Farm to Barn where most liquid comes in glass containers which are then cleaned and reused.


Food trucks are a big part of eating in Oahu and one day after fish tacos from a truck across from Sunset beach, I looked around for a place to recycle two Coke bottles and was told “Sorry, we don’t recycle.” Maybe this was a unique situation but it blew me away.


The solution, as always, is education. Looking at your own life and seeing if you can use less and recycle better and care about the turtles a little more. Because Lahaina is not a one-off, not a unique situation but one that will become more common each day we continue down our current path.


Mahalo Nui Loa.









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