The Reckoning

Aloha Ka Makani O Kohala!
The observant will note this small
hand-painted sign upon entering
the sacred lands of North Kohala,
known generally and simply
as Kohala;

Faded in the relentless sunlight
of that desert region, scrubs
of kiawe punctuate shoreline
un-beleaguered by development
thus far, iron gates buttressed
by lava rock piers encroaching
ever northward, flanked by irrigated
micro landscapes tended to entice
the wealthy to these hallowed shores;

Meanwhile the sign, all but forgotten
with time and tide, ignored by those
fixated on expansive Maui views,
cheap land compared to sister islands,
yet oblivious to Hawaiian words,
why bother translating? Until,
structures set in place, the winds
begin to kick, first the red dirt,
then the butts of those inhabitants
deceived into believing they were safe
somehow from the`āina herself,
turning bitterness into hedgerows,
more walls, spreading outward,
ever outward, fortresses of folly
in a land well known for her mana;

The war against nature escalates,
bankrolls drained into more and richer
landscapes, all foreign to these shores,
and the cost of water begins tapping
reserves of sanity, yet what else to do
but visit rarely, mini-mansions swept
empty by the makani, inhabited more
by a staff of maintenance workers
than the residents themselves,
and perhaps this is as it should be,
even unto their scripture, the last will
be first and the first will be last;

Money can buy things, little else,
and in the end, the`āina and her elements
will prevail; and as the little grass shack
leaps to mind and the simple life
of subsistence increasingly makes sense,
we continue downsizing, simplifying,
reducing our own tiny imprint
on this glorious windswept land.

There is a saying here, mauka to makai, meaning mountain to ocean. It is almost like meaning the whole of the place. For Hawai’i nei was originally allocated into ahupua’a, units of division that provided mountains for hunting, fields for planting, and ocean for fishing. These photos demonstrate how different mauka, or mountain regions, are from makai, the ocean landscape. In Hawai’i, elevation is everything. As always, all photos ©Bela Johnson. Aloha.

27 thoughts on “The Reckoning

  1. Human hubris, bringing their lifestyle and habits with them, even when it doesn’t fit the land. Like green lawns and English gardens in the desert. Huh?? Not always the most intelligent of species. 😉
    Beautiful photos, Bela. I see why you love it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly. All of Southern California is desert. Many of these people come from there and doubtless try to replicate the landscapes they left. I mean, I am a gardener, so who am I to judge another’s landscape? Yet as water shortages increase, they will and do continue irrigating. Restrictions are for others to bear, surely. And that is where the hubris makes itself manifest.

      Yet the elements, Mother Nature’s children, are great levelers. And if I trust in anything, it is the power of the natural world to reclaim what it must. Such interesting times we are living in! 🌺❤️ Mahalo, Eliza.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It would seem that no matter where you are, progress moves on and eventually in. I have never been to Hawaii but have seen many travel programs about it and sad to think that such a beautiful landscape (in not taken by volcanic overflow) will certainly be taken by entrepreneurs. Aloha!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Renee, I agree. There are too many people on the planet, and so by sheer numbers if nothing else, it means some of these pristine areas will not remain untouched. Unfortunately.

      My point in writing this piece though was to highlight how nature can – sometimes and often – have her way. The wind in this case weeds out those who would otherwise flock to these shores. And I am grateful for that at least!

      Aloha, dear one. Hope you have a gentle ending to your week! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The light in Hawaii is unlike any I have experienced in other regions of the world. The air as well. I suspect those two go together somehow 😉

      Thus striking sunrises and sunsets are a photographer’s dream. The senses can be overwhelmed with so much beauty, so the trick is to train the eye on what can best be captured well in a one-dimensional photograph. It’s a process, at least for me.

      I remember an artist friend once told me how light is everything, and I cannot disagree. At the time, I didn’t fully understand. Now I do! 😀

      Thanks for your appreciation and your comments, always welcome! Aloha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I lived further South in Oklahoma, both me and a friend from Wisconsin noticed how sunsets and sunrises seemed to be more beautiful than further north (for me Canada). It’s unclear what exactly the reason would be. Oklahoma might have more particles in the air to scatter light, but there are certainly latitudinal differences I think. Certainly closer to the equator you have year round high sun angles during the day and a quickly setting and rising sun. I am sure this creates a certain set of conditions that make it different from locations at other latitudes. However I would think that it’s the particles in the atmosphere that make the biggest difference. The latitude of Hawaii means it is generally under the subtropical high pressure which suppresses a lot of vertical motion, trapping particles lower in the atmosphere and leading to some more impressive light displays when the sun angle is low. Hawaii is also unique in that much of it’s precipitation is capture by current and past volcanoes which force air to raise upward. Making it a lot greener than it would be for a flat island at a similar latitude. It’s probably true to say that every place has unique light to a certain extent. Either way I am glad you are there to appreciate the light. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks for this description, Swarn! I knew it must have something to do with the volcanoes, for sure. But didn’t connect that with its greenness, per se. Interesting. And our position in the middle of the ocean, as the most isolated bits of land in the world (or so it is said – there is at least one other contender, but I cannot now gather it to mind). I’ve also been in the Caribbean a fair amount back in the days of living on the east coast, and it’s very different there. Flatter islands in general. Your words explain that. How cool!

        Enjoy the upcoming weekend! Aloha


    1. Gosh, I so wish this were not so. I keep running into people lately who profess to hate this or that in nature – afraid of spiders, mountain lions, snakes, closed-in spaces (like forests). And my only reply is that nothing – and I do mean Nothing – in nature frightens me. It’s the humans and their malintent (usually in service to their own personal greed) that truly scare the living shit out of me.

      I am always in awe of these wild experiences, and it’s my own challenge to overcome fear in the face of a feral animal, for example. But over time, I’ve learned to drop my energy deep into the earth and I am rarely if ever afraid of such encounters. If I am too close, my feet tell me so. If the animal needs more space, I am instantly aware of that. Let it also be said that there are far fewer encounters, unfortunately. I was so struck when returning to New England last year – the northern part of Vermont, to be precise – that there were next to no wildlife sightings! In the fall!! I was completely and utterly vexed. Have humans managed to kill every damn thing that walks or crawls besides ‘their’ own disrespectful species?

      And on that note – and I know you understand well what I am saying – I will cease my rant. Still, it will not keep me from setting off into any wild country, as long as it (and I) last. It’s just critical to my sanity to do so.

      Blessings, Betty. And my thanks. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally understand what you’re saying, Bela. The attitudes (disconnect with nature/Gaia) scares the heck out of me too. Please keep posting your wisdom-thoughts…. it’s perhaps just a matter of waking others (those who have the spark of resonance) with our words. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes the war against Nature escalates, and yes money can buy many things, and at the end of the day Bela, all the money in the world and all those living in their mansions will come to understand. Mother and her Nature defines no one other than equal.
    We who try to leave tiny footprints, also know even though we are trying our very best for her, we will all face the same fate..
    But we who in our simple ways will at least know we tried our best.. Appreciating her glorious Skies, rich pastures and beautiful waterfalls..
    This land of was moulded out of nothing, from the belly of Mothers bowels.. And one marvels at the beauty she has created here on this magical Island..

    Some humans are blind to the beauty of nature, rushing around making their millions to spend a couple of weeks in their mansions..
    Yet some humans.. See the beauty in a blade of grass…
    I so enjoyed the beauty you shared Bela.. ❤

    Beautiful photos Bela.. And yes.. Elevation is Everything..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To balance the creative chaos that is the cosmos, perhaps the lure to parity lies within our earthly midst. As gardeners, you and I know that nature responds to that kind of energy by giving us her best.

      I have been in the gardens all day – still cutting back and pruning trees and shrubs from months and months of rain. I have citron (Buddha’s hand) that has produced at least two fruits larger than a man’s hand! Apt name for them too, as the fruit wrinkles into a citrusy hand with long, slender fingers. Cool if you’ve not ever seen one. 🙂

      I can envision Ireland this time last year, and I’d imagine your landscape is similar. And all the roses! Wild and cultivated. Boxwood hedges! The closes we get is probably Mock Orange, which takes awhile to grow into a decent hedge, but has the most delicious little flowers that smell divine.

      Thanks for appreciating my photos, Sue. Aloha! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, its forever changing as they grow and with the seasons Bela… And I never tire of seeing something different be it a fading bloom or a new shoot.. 🙂 Love right back ❤


  4. I am glad I came here so late and could read all the reverential reflections about Mother Nature. Sometimes I wonder why some people are so indifferent towards the bounties around us and why some few focus on conserving the resources. Is it connected with human values inculcated at the right time or hubris of those who think they have all the money and the power to capture everything? Human thinking is beyond comprehension, as each one has his or her own goal in mind but nature has her own mind and knows when to turn tables!
    Thank you for sharing a thought-provoking piece Bela. Your images, as always are breathtaking and I enjoyed reading the description of Swarn about the effect of light on the landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

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