“Last Saturday was another excellent day up on the mountain … thirty-plus volunteers, and over 1,200 trees in the ground, we had kupuna [elders] planting alongside teenagers, and veterans working with first-time visitors. Out on the far western edge of Auwahi II, we planted on an exposed slope butting up against the fence line; there aren’t very many big trees over there right now to buffer the sun’s heat, but the mountain took care of us—we worked in a cool veil of light breezes and rolling cloud cover.
“To call it spiritual would be a bit like calling the ocean wet, but here’s the thing. We were planting, laying down a web of ʻaʻaliʻi keiki, and we could hear laughter and the clanging of ʻoʻo beyond the next rise, and then, before we knew it, we had worked our way to the edge of another plot where the ʻaʻaliʻi were already in place, bright splashes of green peeking up through the thick, brown kikuyu mat. It was like we had painted ourselves into a corner.
“The fence ran along one side of us and everywhere else that we tried to go, well, the poʻe kokua [volunteers] had already been there, and the foundation was established. It’s a pretty incredible problem to have, if you think about it; after four years, it looks as though the base planting for Auwahi II is in place. Lucky thing, too, since we’ve got a new little plot to malama [care for] next door, Auwahi III, just waiting for the chance to come back to life.
“Trekking back through the exclosure at the end of the day was like a walking tour of a forest’s evolution; we left behind the dry patchwork of recent plantings for a zone of low shrubs and thinning ground cover until we were winding through a stand of overhead trees where leaf litter covered the forest floor and the next generation of keiki were beginning to peek through. And watching over it all stood the silent sentinels of this forest, the guardians who endured, waiting, hidden beneath a drab and fading exterior, for this time to come. They are the makua [parents] and kupuna of this land and as the forest resurrects around them, they are beginning to display their former splendor, new leaves unfolding like verdant, glossy jewels, whispering amongst themselves of the days to come.”
Next trip date: May 22, 2010