Shades of Rip Van Winkle.
That’s who I’ve been feeling like since returning to write for The Garden Island after being away for so long.
Rip Van Winkle is, of course, the main character in author Washington Irving’s classic masterpiece that combines myth, legend and history to tell the story of a simple man who falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains for 20 years.
When he finally awakens, he is surprised to discover that not only has life in his village gone on without him, significant changes have taken place while he was sleeping.
His wife has died, his kids have grown and he slept through the entire Revolutionary War that gave birth to a new nation independent of England. King George was his monarch when he went to sleep. George Washington was his president when he woke up.
Unlike Van Winkle, I wasn’t surprised that life at The Garden Island went on without missing a beat — or an issue — after I retired. Ever since the paper was founded in 1902, scores of talented, committed people have carried the editorial torch and passed it on to those who took over when they left.
I have been away for a lot less than 20 years but significant changes have also happened on Kauai and in Hawaii, particularly on the government and political scenes. And I have missed them all.
Election Night was always one of the most exciting for me during my years at The Garden Island. We would catch up with candidates wherever we could. Reporters and photographers would interview them, grab a few photos and rush back to the office to put the paper to bed as quickly as possible so our readers could have complete results first thing in the morning.
I am amazed at how much I have to catch up with. During these past years, three different people have sat in the governor’s office and many changes have also occurred in the state Legislature.
Bernard Carvalho has been Kauai’s mayor since 2008, when he was elected to fill the unexpired term of deceased Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
The County Council has had four elections during my absence from the news scene. I was not involved with any of them but it has been fascinating to see how many old and new faces have come and gone and how many have come back again.
Daryl Kaneshiro, father of County Council newcomer Arryl Kaneshiro, used to work with us at The Garden Island before serving on the County Council for six terms. I don’t know Arryl today but I still remember the first time I heard his name. It was on the day he was born when his proud father was making the round of his friends and sharing his good news. And now Arryl is on the County Council!
But there are some things that haven’t changed.
Old issues like barking dogs and Newell’s Shearwaters are still newsworthy and still controversial.
Many of the people I most respected when I worked at the paper are still serving the community in the government, business and private sectors. I am gratified that I have reconnected with several old friends since coming back.
And sadly, every day I find more familiar names in the archived and current obituary columns.
We have lost so many wonderful people in the past few years.
I am enjoying being back, I must say. I am grateful to everyone who had a part in giving me the opportunity to be here. Aloha.
Rita De Silva is former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.