Alicialand


The front of my land, from the southwest corner

I paid a visit today to the lot I bought last year in Hawaiian Paradise Park, on the outskirts of Kea’au. Nothing has changed. It’s still a peaceful acre of rainforest near the end of a dirt road, with many ohia (the soulful, slow-growing native tree that practically defines windward Hawaii), but many more albizia, a beautiful but dangerous introduced tree that grows quickly, enriching the soil with fallen leaves and twigs, but dropping huge branches without warning. Widowmakers, they call them. I’m not really the bulldozer type, but I can see one in my future if I decide to build a home here. I would, of course, leave all of the ohia standing. Steve Sparks said he thought a driveway had been bulldozed here before, maybe ten years ago.


Where the driveway once was.

The lot is on a hilltop, and, it looks like, if I remove the albizia on the side facing the ocean, and build a structure two stories high, that I’ll be able to see the ocean from the second floor. If not, I will certainly expose the house to sea breezes and thereby greatly reduce the incidence of mosquitoes around my living space.


Strawberry guava ripening on my property. Dessert or cluster bomb?

Meanwhile, my land offered me a sweet treat of waiwi (pronounced “vye vee”) (strawberry guava). The tree, originally brought to Hawaii as a decorative and food plant, is now generally considered a nuisance, since the multi-seeded fruit propagates itself profusely. Hawaiian Paradise Park, a huge private subdivision that was once a cattle ranch suffering multiple intentional burnings of its forests to create pasture, is full of fast-growing, aggressive plants, what permaculture teachers call pioneer plants. They are nature’s way of quickly rebuilding traumatized biomes with biomass and nutrient-fixing root systems. They have their place, but we who care about Hawaii want to nurture the displaced native plants back into dominance.