Back in January 2014, on a sunny afternoon, a friend and I enjoyed a “whale walk” along The Path heading north from Kealia Beach. My second “Green Flash” column told how we soon spotted a spouting whale and watched the emerging curve of a humpback whale as it breached.
What an incredible moment. It was easy to imagine ourselves closer, feeling the great slap as tons of male whale hit the water and displaced it, a mini-tsunami in all directions. You don’t have to be a female whale to feel, see, hear and/or imagine the exciting whoosh, the giant rolling eye, the booming percussion of blubber and bone and flukes slapping back to ocean surface.
March and April bring our “aloha oe” moments to the great creatures who come visiting us each winter. Sadly, this writer has been privy to only one short sighting of a humpback this past season. It may be a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, although I’ve walked The Path many times, eyes scanning the inky blue Pacific. True, I missed visiting the Mahaulepu area this season, where in past years we’ve made some fine sightings.
Last month I read that even the regular whale-watch volunteers watched patiently for many hours from vantage points protected from the constant and heavy rains for very few sightings, and quite far out. From Ahukini, I believe most whales seen that day emerged during 15 minutes, late morning.
That January day four years ago, my friend and I perched along The Path’s edge to scan the blue Pacific off Kauai’s Eastside. We watched the bike riders pedal by, the runners, strolling family groups, and the take-it-easy walkers (like us), and noticed that almost everyone was watching for whales. When rewarded with the sight of a spout or a breach, ours weren’t the only “oohs” and “aahs” to be heard.
In my dearth of sightings this season, I just close my eyes to revisit the whale play seen in the past, up and down the coast from Anahola past Wailua toward Ahukini Bay. I attributed the fortune of that sunny afternoon’s sighting to my friend’s ability to attract and connect with the sea and its creatures. She deflected my praise with a laugh, I remember.
As Makahiki time ends, the strong currents shift from the north of the island to the south. The time arrives for the whales who left their chilled environment in the fall to travel south to our warmer waters, to return north, homeward.
As on the day of the Eastside stroll mentioned and most every day since, I’ve thought, “How lucky we are to live Kauai.” We are also grateful to have The Path as it’s been provided for our use.
And now I hear that our most recently announced mayoral candidate, along with her other items in an agenda of community focus, hopes to initiate some Westside walkway plans for the benefit of those who live on the Hanapepe and Waimea side of our island.
This pleases my husband and myself and, we’re sure, many of you, Dear Readers.
As I’ve brought to public attention several times, these popular waterside ways (and town strolls) give residents and visitors of all ages a chance to refresh and renew while exercising, walking with a sweetheart or friends, sipping a coffee or snacking at a stand set back from the view, or just muddling along, breathing in the fresh breeze, enjoying the view as the way unfolds. You cannot put a dollar value on such experiences.
We humans, it seems, are drawn to water and its amazing creatures. Experiencing the natural beauty of Kauai anew each day, we offer our gratitude to all the miracles of life and all the opportunities afforded us. For me, most recently, it’s been the blue moon rise that brought me another grand “aha” moment.
This was down at Lydgate Park last weekend. I’d walked along The Path at sunset, leaving picnicking friends briefly, and wondering if the darkened cloud layer would allow me sight of the fabled blue moon. As I was returning, here it came: bright coppery orange, like a giant coin popping up out of a slot. I laughed aloud with them when little kids playing nearby yelled happily, “The sun, Mommy. The sun — look!” The mom (I took it) said, “Not the sun. The moon!” and I wanted to dance and yell with the kids when they started frolicking and yelling out, “The moon, the moon!” By the time I reached our group again to grab my cell phone and photograph, well, you guessed it: that moon had disappeared. We waited patiently (as with the whales). And were rewarded with some mystery views, although the original clear view did not grace the skies over the clouded horizon.
The blue moon was a good harbinger, I’m hoping, that next season more “whale luck” will come our way.
As mentioned in “Green Flash” No. 2, any self-respecting whale over the age of 7 (who isn’t a new, lactating mother) will return to our tropical waters to relax and take a break from serious eating to concentrate on mating. And with good fortune, the next pod of calves will be born after the 11 1/2 month gestation cycle within their migrating mothers right back here, around the turn of this year.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, firstname.lastname@example.org.