na’alehu/hawai’i

Late afternoon, after writing, the sun gentle, I drive twenty minutes down an empty winding blacktop, along groves of uncleared land, past palm trees, and white picket-fenced macadamia farms, past Riley’s Dikene—his wooden table with boulder-sized unripe avocados, yellow lemons, oranges, limes and coffee-roasted from the land where a little goat grazes inside an enclosed pasture.  As at most of the roadside stops in this southern end of the island, no one mans the stand: chalked prices; tin canister with money slit; honor system.

Down to Kau Lia to turn right one lane curving at 25 mph through the little town of Na’alehu–a place reminding me of Hemingway’s Key West before that time passed—by the elementary school playground and the local police station.  After the yellow caution cow sign, pastures on the left and up to the overlook of a stunning bay: abandoned pier; white ruffles of sea foaming against a black beaded necklace of lava enclosing tidal pools: soft malachite hills on the distant flanks of Mauna Loa. A car has usually stopped there, tourists on the loop road holding a cellphone aloft to snatch the astonishing view.

At the bottom of the curve, a sharp right enters the palm-lined drive to the pockmarked asphalt lot of Whittington Beach Park. In my water shoes, a towel over a shoulder, my rental car key pinned inside my swimsuit top, I walk across the green turf by an immensely exuberant monkey tree to the piles of lava rocks that form the northern edges of a tidal lagoon, waves crashing outside the rock enclosure on the southside.

Near high tide, this is a natural Olympic pool, both protected and scary:  water in murky light, darting things, unsuspected twigs, seaweed rising in dragon kale arcs, sharp knee-scraping boulders, warm and shivery cold currents against my skin.

Through my swimming goggles, yellow and black angelfish, a neon blue minnow, school of soft striped greys. An extraordinary Hawai’ian green turtle flying underwater, flipperwings, dragging paddle feet like I do behind my stroking upper body.  Entranced, I follow her meandering path forgetting to mark the dark shoreline.  A wave knocks me into a sharp lava ridge.  I’d missed the edge that forms the outer ring of the pool.  I’d gone beyond bounds, into the open surf crashing sea.  Panic. Clinging to boulders, I climb up the black rocks, then scramble across back to the protected lagoon.

Swimming in a tidal pool is a metaphor for working in digital space.  There on the surface, my audio track, a narrative tide.  Just beneath, in the video track, still and moving images accompanied by the currents of a shifting music track.  Words, images, transitions choreograph insights in my storytimeline.  Sometimes quite unexpectedly, I go out of bounds–a synaptic juxtaposition of memory beyond linear narrative– then climb back, to the story’s meaning and theme.

In this piece, the  narrative tide moves from geological time to the present then shifts to forty years in the past to  explore the theme of uncertainty.  Click the link to view the 3-minute piece   slag 2021