Thursday, October 18, 2012

Early Morning

Every day starts out about the same here.  No alarm clock ringing, at least for me; instead it is a distant dog bark or the inevitable rooster crow that stirs me. Like many wake-up devices, the first dozen crows can be ignored, unless of course you do want to get up at 4:30 AM! Eventually the sun peaks over the horizon, mine being through a window looking out over the Pacific. Windows and doors are wide open now. There seems to be little rain or blowing storms. Instead there is heat and vog, which is a natural version of smog, created by combining the sulfuric gases of the volcano with sunlight, water vapor and a dash of manmade pollutants. Not what one pictures when you think of a tropical "paradise." Rain will come and the winds will shift, blowing this throat scratching soup in some other direction.

Eventually I rise. The first order of the day is to pee and brush my teeth, both of which happen over the edge of the lanai. It's just me here so I can be a little crude in my habits; the pee gets washed off in the next rain storm and becomes a bit of nitrogen cycled back into the earth. Tooth-brushing is camp style, using a splash of water from a water bottle to wet and rinse. So I pull my barn boots on and walk the 800 feet or so up to the house. In the process I pass through two gates which close the five sheep into their current pasture. They sometimes bleat a bit, hoping I might have some grain. We exchange pleasantries and I am usually gifted with a small deposit of poop on the trail. I don't take this as an editorial, just sheep being sheep.

Usually by the time I reach the house Paul H. and Scot have sat for a few minutes at the table in the open air kitchen and started the first cups of coffee. I sit and join them. The brew is strong, made in a French press. I drink it black. Sometimes there is a discussion on the weather; how much rain was in the gauge this morning (Scot and Paul keep records), or the rising sun. Next is the farm report, of sorts, talk about roosters, pigs, etc., perhaps even a foray into current events in the news, but inevitably the discussion focuses around the dogs and cats who are sniffing around, doing what they do, in a their friendly/adversarial manner. Sadie, the dog, always comes by for her fair share of attention. Bandit, the black and white cat, might hop up in a lap. This cat cuddle is appreciated on cooler mornings. I find it secretly amusing that three men watch a dog watch a cat. It's the best show available and no cover charge. A bit later after the morning kibble, Sadie the elder dog comes out to sniff about. She is ancient dog and dear to us. Most of her time is now spent snoozing in her crate. Perhaps if she were a human (a "two-legs") she might be writing her memoirs...

After a second cup, we tend to wander off to our various tasks, perhaps musing for a moment on a small point of an earlier discussion, perhaps regarding the chickens, or a tomato in the greenhouse. The pace is often slow.

Right now I am charging my batteries in the bright morning sun.  The day has begun.

Paul A

Starry Night

Starry, Starry
There are nights here on the mountainside in Ninole that make me feel attuned with Vincent.  Once every week or so, the night sky opens up with a dazing display, allowing a momentary peek away from myself and out into the universe.  It’s a show that can be seen partially because the few folks that are here generate their own electricity; outdoor lighting and the nighttime haze it creates that light-wash the heavens is kept to a minimum.  It is dark, and save for the light from distant stars, or sunlight reflected off the moon and nearby planets, a cloudless night will reveal the heavens in unparalleled fashion.
Given the time of the month, the moon can blaze brightly in the night sky, so the darkest nights are ones that are moonless or nearly.  When the moon is full and my eyes have adjusted to the outdoors, it is quite possible to traipse the open fields with the illumination it provides alone.  Hanging full over the ocean to the east the reflection is sometimes almost like daylight, and the beauty is mind boggling.  I have been told that given the right circumstances of moonlight and rain showers a “moon-bow” can occur, arcing across the opposing sky in all those crayon colors we are accustomed to seeing here in the daytime.  I have placed this phenomena on my must see list!
Bumbling along the five minute walk down the path at night is an introduction to a world of animals in there nocturnal splendor.  Spiders, as daring and intrepid as any human engineer, sling their webs across the path, spanning perhaps ten feet or more.  I try to duck under or around them when possible.  Neither spider nor man is happy walking into that snare in the dark.  Did you know that their eyes shine yellow in the reflection of a head lamp?  Other eyes also glare through the dark.  A sheep’s eyes glow a bright yellow, and a prowling farm cat, waiting in ambush of a mouse or a rat will shine greenish from under the ferns.
But stop for a minute in this darkness, and if gifted with a clear sky, the broad sweep of The Milky Way will fill your eyes and your heart.  Starry, starry night indeed!  Countless millions of them cross overhead in a band that runs generally north to south.  They form a virtual cloud of stars dividing the nearer stars twinkling to the east and west. At these moments I have felt a certain kinship with my yurt dwelling predecessors, who may very well have stepped outside to check the animals before returning to the safety and protection of their round felt homes.  Surely they too looked up and wondered, marveled, and stood reverently in silent awe.