I woke up today, like many others on our island, with a deep sadness from the loss of David Boynton.
I was scheduled to meet a class of Kilauea sixth-graders at 8:30 a.m. with Hanalei Watershed Hui to talk about invasive species as we hiked Okolehao Trail. I didn’t feel much like going. I just didn’t think I could be very lively for those kids, when missing a dear friend and mentor and all that Dave means to all of us.
But then I thought about chilly mornings in Koke‘e, when Dave probably didn’t feel much like leading a bunch of fifth-graders either, but did it anyways. And, he did it with style and sincerity. With him continuing to inspire me, I took a deep breath and started up the trail, a line of kids following.
It didn’t take long for someone to mention it. It was on our minds. Besides, learning in the forest can’t help but remind you of Mr. Boynton. I asked the kids to tell me stories about their trip to the Discovery Center, taken just this past year. I asked them to share their memories about him. I knew it would make us feel better.
I must confess with a smile that many of them began, “One time, Mr. Boynton was hiding behind some bushes and …”
If you ever had the blessed opportunity to experience a classic Boynton program with all of its humor and glory, you know how the rest of the story goes.
And just the way that they spoke about their time there with him; about the night walks, the hike to Berry Flats, playing in the menehune hale … I could feel how lasting and special it was for them to experience the magic of seeing the forest through his eyes.
That inner lens, which was behind all of Dave’s gorgeous photography, was very much connected to his heart. There are few people in the world who are able to capture the essence and spirit of both nature and people. But Dave recognized the beauty in both, which made him the perfect outdoor teacher.
The Garden Island’s headline states, “David Boynton’s legacy to live on.”
Today, I witnessed this to be true, with children in the forest, and it gave me great comfort.
Mahalo, Mr. Boynton.
We miss you, buddy.
• Jackie Kozak is a member of the Kauai Invasive Species Committee and a friend of David Boynton.