Saturday, March 28, 2009

Neighbor Island Nene

Click on photos to enlarge! Far away from Honolulu. Rural Big Island

“We artists! We moon-struck and God-struck ones! We death-silent, untiring wanderers on heights which we do not see as heights, but as our plains, as our places of safety!”
Friedrich Nietzsche

A world of worlds on a green leaf

A wanderer is man from his birth. / He was born in a ship / On the breast of the river of Time.”
Matthew Arnold

The gentle Nene Goose mates for life

“The family is one of nature's masterpieces.”
George Santayana

The winds of the world can blow you off course, especially if you soar far beyond your local skies.

To see your fledgling nest from the top of the highest tree reveals other, undreamed, unexpected vistas of possibility.

At first there is only excitement. Excitement and (to be honest) fear. But the excitement, or the wanderlust, or disgust with your surroundings, goads you higher. The sun is intoxicating, the winds of early Spring beguile like new playmates.

Discomfort is part of the game. Unaccustomed food and voices feed your days. But each moment un-moored bursts with presence. Even boredom is romantic as you explore the streets of a new town before it's morning begins.

You land beside still waters. Children, lovers, madmen, and the aged share a few moments and their crusts of bread with you in the long afternoon light. You sleep with your dreaming head buried in oil slicked feathers, and wake each day to the first day of life in the Garden. But something clicks, the temperature, or temper tantrum of a fellow wanderer. And the sky, always the sky, renews its imprecations as you fly to embrace new winds. Forward always forward. Calling, always calling.

Sometimes answered.

At last, a most heroic flight. With fleets of feathered navigators - far far from accustomed climes, at the end's reach of endurance, above an endless water sky.

First a feeling, then a smell, a change in the vast empyrean. Till low clouds sing the joy: Land! A verdant mountain rises from that endless sea of purgatory. Land! You remember. You once had feet and still wings beside a rock instead of unconstant clouds. Remember?

It wasn't just a dream!

Water and water bugs. Ferns and bracken. No fox, no snake, no lightning. And maybe just because you're finally tired, after crossing the greatest crossing of them all, nudged by upper level jets and the lack of landing for mile upon night, and day upon mile. . . at last you stretch your neck content. Your tail end waggles in satisfaction as you feed. We few are the far fliers. We are the very best!

And after many ages pass, you forget that any other place, any other life ever existed. You are a distinct species: The Nene Goose, State Bird of Hawaii.

We now understand that this emblem of Hawaii, genetically distinct from any other bird, was once an immigrant, a malihini.

It was once a Canada Goose. A visitor off course who stayed, who changed.

Like me.

A L O H A! Cloudia