Richard Ha writes:
A few days ago I delivered several pallets of produce to the Waimea stores. At 4:15 a.m. I loaded up, and then I headed north on Highway 19 for the 60 mile trip.
For a year or more, many years ago, I drove and delivered the Kona route and I learned that truck drivers notice a lot of things while on the road.
They know where the “caution needed” areas are, and where the safe passing zones and the horsepower-robbing climbs are. They notice every bridge, every turn, every bump, and even the drivers coming from the opposite direction and their schedules.
One of the more exhilarating feelings while on the road is watching the sun come up. This is especially so when you’ve been driving for some time in the total dark.
When I dropped off the load in Waimea the other day and started back toward Hilo, it was still pitch black. Then a few miles outside of Waimea, I started to notice the sky getting brighter. The land was still dark and the stars were out but the clouds started to look like they were backlit. I thought to myself, no one would consider turning his/her lights off yet though. It was 6:25 a.m.
A few minutes later, trees in the distance started to show themselves in silhouette. And minute by minute the land started to come out of the shadows, but it was still too dark to turn off my lights. The backlit sky was becoming brighter in the east, and some streaks of orange were starting to show. I asked myself: “When is ‘first light’?”
Right at 6:30, a pair of mynah birds flew by. The sky was bright but the land was still not well lit, though now I could see cows in the pasture a couple of miles away. Was this first light? I still wasn’t ready to turn my headlights off, and neither was the oncoming traffic.
A few minutes later a flock of birds flew by. But the oncoming car lights still looked “nighttime-bright,” not “daytime-on.” I think that it was first light for birds but not yet for us.
At 6:40 a.m., the first car passed me with its headlights off but it had its parking lights on. This, I thought, must be first light for humans.
All those “first light” thoughts made me think about how special that time of day is. And how special this past year has been.
This was the year we started our annual Tomato Recipe contest; started working on issues of food security here in Hawai‘i, where we import most of our food; helped our neighbors at Andrade Camp with their water system; had our cocktail tomatoes named Best Tomato by 100 chefs; started our Adopt-a-Class project; testified about superstores on the Big Island (against) and biofuel (for); published an opinion piece in the Honolulu Advertiser about my “Law of Survival;” learned to make salad dressing from Chef Alan Wong; gave the commencement speech at the Hawai‘i Community College about "Not, no can. Can!;" hosted several groups of legislators at the farm; got involved with really talented Hawaiian science and math students through the Keaholoa STEM program; started thinking about how we in Hawai‘i can take care of ourselves as fuel prices continue to soar out of sight; developed our New Ahupua’a project; attended a lot of terrific Farmers Markets; and sat on a yellow school bus surrounded by 5th graders going out into the community to show appreciation.
Then I started thinking about how special my wife June is. She's the one behind the scenes taking care of all the details. She's the one who set up and supervises our bookkeeping system. She is always concerned about the workers' well-being. Without June, and without a doubt, Hamakua Springs would not be a tiny fraction of what it is today.
With all that thinking going on, the next thing I knew the sun was up, it was a glorious day and I was in a great mood.
A very Happy New Year to you and your families, and let’s all have a terrific 2008.