Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Conservationist (Volcano)

Down the road past the pasture where goats used to graze, now a few cows nibbling amid the `ohia, past other goats' empty hutches, adorned with an old tire on the roof, I heard a dog bark. A man's voice interrupted the dog, who nonetheless appeared, sweet as can be, to investigate my smells. He called him Brin, and I asked if that were for "brindled," a word I'm hearing a lot these days. Yes, he was that. The man stood outside an open container, inside of which was lots of stuffs; I asked if he was a UH grad, to go with his green shirt and logo. Yes, UH Hilo.
His first mistake, he said, was to study biology; his second was to go into conservation. "Doesn't sound like a mistake for the world," I said. He's now an independent contractor, listing on his fingers the many places he works. The last, most difficult finger, was the County. "They put the small p in planning," he said. "Oh, the corruption, the staring at screens and saying they're working. Can't fix it from within." I muttered something about SCOTUS.
I hate the way people are scraping their lots of the rain forest, I said. Oh yes, but you can do anything you want with a lot less than an acre, and if you buy four adjoining half-acre lots, you can scrape them all, he said. When I said the climate would get warmer here, if the rain forest gets "nibbled," as he called it, he said, "But now you're thinking! And that's a mistake!" 
He has a friend who teaches high school English. So hard, he said. The kids need a teacher to be their alternate parent, because the parents don't have time, or inclination, or they're druggies, he said. I'd told him about my mental health work at UH, how I didn't parent students, but tried to support them. 
Brin kept circulating. Across the road in the brush, down the road, behind the man, sniffing my pants. The man finally said it was getting cooler, so I should probably continue my walk, as that's a sign of rain. We shook hands, exchanged first names, and I walked on, meeting a former neighbor from Oahu who was driving by, and a philosopher ceramicist, friend of the philosophy prof who lives in Albert Saijo's old place. He asked if I was from KC. He's from KC. But no, I just wear a Monarchs cap.

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