The Sounds of Silence
Yesterday we decided to go for a hike to the Swinging Bridges. It’s one of those hikes that I’ve been saying for 13 years I was going to go do, but for a variety of reasons including never knowing if it was really open or not or if it required a permit or not, I’d never done. Just to be on the safe side I googled it to see if the permit would be required, and was chastened to find out it is now closed, permanently and irrevocably. As in razor wire and high fences. The website said “another casualty of Maui Revealed, ” referred to as “that damn book” at the concierge desk where I worked, because it gave away every last local secret, and places like Swinging Bridges got overused and trampled by tourists, though the final nail in the coffin was probably that Adam Sandler filmed there in “Just Go With It.”
So we gave up on that idea and headed out to a favorite hike Upcountry, which promised the possibility of fresh blackberries to be picked. It has been blazing hot where we live, at an elevation of 1500 feet. When we built our house we assumed we would never need air conditioning. But each year it has seemed hotter and hotter and eventually we broke down and put in window air conditioners, which cost a small fortune to run, and we use sparingly. I thought maybe it was just my imagination that it’s been hotter, but then I read an article which stated that Hawaii is running an average of 10° hotter in the last decade. Global warming, indeed.
This hike is at about 3500 elevation, and cool as shave ice after the heat we’ve been experiencing. The soil is black, not red, and moist, not chalky
and dry. I breathe deeply… The smell of wet earth mixed with moss and wet green grass on this mid-morning stroll fills me with joy. We pass a house with two friendly goats in the yard. They trot to the fence and Mike pulls grass and
feeds them. They are comical looking, and one has the most beautiful brown
markings on its face that I’ve ever seen on a goat. The cows stop grazing and
lift their heads to stare at us as we pass. One bull stands so stock-still, I
think for a moment he’s a statue, until the telltale flick of his tail.
We climb and climb, and now we have a view of Oprah’s Maui house
below us. You would not believe all the people who are fanatically interested in
where Oprah lives on Maui. The thing I remember as we hike is an article in her magazine where she talked about spending a long time at her house one summer. She said in all the years she’d been trying to lose weight, that just hiking with her dogs on the hills behind this house had made the pounds melt
miraculously, with no diet required. We are hiking those same hills now, and I
know I will feel it tomorrow.
Up and up, and now we have a clear, unobstructed view of the channel, and there’s Kaho’olawe, parked in the ocean, with the crescent shape of Molokini nearby. All of this below us as far as the eye can see, ocean, fields, islands surrounded by water, and not a single sound. Not one. Not so much as a car or a lawnmower. Finally a lone dog lets out a woof and it echoes across the air. Then stillness again.
I am blessed/ cursed, depending on the situation, with acute hearing. Engines rumbling on a plane ride for instance, are anathema to me. So if somehow I could live in this perfect silence I would. Mike mentions that we should buy acreage for a retreat, up here where it’s cool, where we would be away from the cane burns and fertilizers… And I think Right, sure…with the money we have squirreled away in a sock in the drawer. Nice thought, though.
We come to the end of our hike, and another farmer’s gate with a sign beseeching us to lock it behind us because cattle are grazing, and we do. I find myself not wanting to leave, not wanting to go back down to the heat and the dust and noise and the people and the work that’s waiting for us. Just another few moments, please.
Just as those who visit Maui on vacation, and don’t want to go home, when a week or two is never long enough… these stolen moments on a perfectly silent Sunday morning have not been enough. But they will have to do.
A hui hou. Mahalo for stopping by!