What? Me worry?

by Milo Clark

April 14, 2003


What do I see when I look up from my keyboard?

Big windows on three sides give an abundance of natural light.

A stand of Mexican Weeping Bamboo drapes softly awaiting every subtlety of breeze which moves its graceful culms gently in response. The hair-fine leaves pick up and spill zephyrs and give them form.

A nearby, very strong and established grove of Buddha Belly Bamboo climbs skyward with some culms now over sixty feet tall. These then fall over in a graceful arc of delicate leaves also awaiting the winds. Each year I take out more than twenty older culms and each year more grow back in. Each year reaching a little higher toward the sky and then falling over into its own special arc.

The bamboo are measured and defined by stands of palms backed by tall ‘Ohi'a with the spindly red blossoms adding touches of color. To my left are also tall ‘Ohi'a now covered with the flowering vines, cup of gold, tecomanthe and blue jade.

The cup of gold are nine to twelve inches across. The red tecomanthe grow directly from the vine itself. Blue jade fall in large cluster with more than a hundred blossoms each. In season, which is a lot of the year, the ground will be covered with fallen blossoms making carpets of gold, red and blue.

We can walk around our mini-botanical garden and be surprised by myriad anthuriums, funny looking (to some) also suggesting yoni shrines found in Hindu temples. Reds of more shades than most can imagine, with lavender, dark purple, yellows and whites for variety. One has huge white-veined dark green leaves perhaps as much as a meter in length.

Orchids also abound. Tiny, tiny bits of wonder popping shyly from nooks and crannies which have to be inspected very closely to discover these blossoms in their intricate patterns unknown to other than those who know. Each walk around discloses new delights in places where we didn't know they were present.

Bromeliads, pineapple relatives, come also in tiny, tiny varieties as well as big ones with humongous, saw-toothed leaves.

White pineapples, rarely seen outside Hawaii given their delicate nature and short shelf life, make sugar taste bitter. Huge variegated floral bursts spring forth from giant bromeliads within which are found little relatives and their most precious offspring.

Heliconias? Birds of Paradise are only one of their varieties. Tall, heavy stalks bursting out into brilliantly colored spectacular floral displays.

Add in the gingers. The little yellow flowers that most know are supplemented by many, many other gingers with blossoms of colors almost unimaginable unless seen.

Palms? Yes, we discover new ones with each walk around the property. Bamboo? I only mentioned a couple. Avocados? Lots of those, too.

Coconuts don't produce fruit at this altitude so we are no danger of getting bonked by one falling on us. Papayas also don't do that well where we are so we go to the local farmers' markets to get the ones rarely seen in supermarkets. We like the strawberry papayas.

The common solo papayas, about the only kind exported, are gassed like bananas before shipment.

Water? We get ours from the sky, direct delivery with no added chemicals, run through our own filters, from our own tanks.

The neighborhood is festooned with bananas eventually producing drooping bunches which we watch expand from a flower hand by hand until their bearing stalks fall away and yellows begin to be seen on the bananas. Tiny, delicately sweet, one-bite size bananas come from this tree. Bigger ice-cream bananas come from that one. Williams and even more varieties are nearby. Un-gassed, not uniformly yellow all-at-once bananas. Ripening moves somewhat slowly down the bunch rather than overwhelming it.

Banana juice or sap will mark indelibly anything it touches. Care is needed to harvest and in handling the weighty bunches. Cutting the hands off takes a sharp knife or saw.

Our pond, pick-axed out of lava a couple of years back, developed a leak a couple of months ago. Hoping it would repair itself was unavailing. All the rocks surrounding it were moved aside. I tried to avoid dismantling the waterfall, but lost. Take out all the vegetation, purple taro and all. Net the fish into wheelbarrows lined with plastic. Dig away at the sand and coral which we picked up by ocean side is many buckets. Take up the liner. Put down carpeting, old shower curtains, unroll more heavy plastic liner materials, put the 30 mil liner back and fill with water again. Didn't work the first time. Try again, no? Now it's all back together. I rebuilt the waterfall but haven't yet connected the pump to it. Another day.

Got another thirty tons of red cinder from which I make the roadways and pathways. Each truck load lasts about a year. I gradually build up the road, driveways and paths while vegetation works almost as hard, sometimes harder to cover it all up.

The big truck comes in and jockeys around and around, making a little way here and again until it can back up into the allotted open space and dump its load. Driver smiles and pulls the levers. Swoosh! Down comes the cinder, nice red gifts from Pele, the volcano goddess who makes our land for us. There are few places anywhere in this world where we can live while new earth is created daily nearby.

The older building, the quixotic house which grew outward and upward from a small 16' x16' cottage, is more like a Bali bale than anything most would recognize. Minimum walled interiors, maximum open spaces. Small, interior spaces hold kitchen and bathroom with a tiny eating space down a couple of steps and a small living room area we can actually close off when weather gets too rambunctious. Up a ladder to the sleeping areas and up another ladder to the topmost room nestled amidst the tree tops. We just finished putting on a new green metal roof, painting all the outside, too. Kept the original colors, a pale green accent, with black trim on a barn red exterior. Inside it is mostly knotty pine with the same colors for walls, trim and such. Most of the time, we are outside on our big lanai open on three sides under a good overhang to shed the rainforest deluges. Put on a new translucent roofing over the lanai last year so we get the light and movements in the trees.

Here I am at my keyboard in our new building with office spaces, storage and an open sided workshop where I can keep my tools and toys. I have piles of wood stacked drying and awaiting projects.

What? Me worry?

No way!

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Iraq on Swans


Milo Clark on Swans (with bio).

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Published April 14, 2003
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