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January 17, 2012 - Rick Chatenever
After Friday the 13th made good on its reputation — and Thursday the 12th hadn’t been all that great, either — it fell to last Saturday to make amends. It was a perfect day.
I’m not just talking about the 49er game. I’m talking about the crystalline edge in the air, revealing the hand of the Great Cinematographer in the Sky. The horizon was a razor-sharp arc of ocean touching sky. Every detail of the West Maui Mountains seemed Photoshopped into dazzling clarity.
Looking east, Haleakala’s summit gleamed like a knife edge.
The West Maui windmills and the sci-fi-movie domes of Science City on Haleakala are the fingerprints of human hands trying to reach for the sky. When you’re next to these unique structures, they’re gigantic, imposing, intimidating. But on days like Saturday when their details are so clearly visible from such great distances, their true scale emerges. They’re tiny, like we are, in the great scheme of it all.
I was driving down the mountain that morning to learn about another tiny form of life: Worms.
The second Saturday of each month, Wilma Nakamura teaches a composting/vermicomposting class from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the MOA Center in Kahului. (For details, call 573-3911.)
For many years now, I’ve been a gentleman worm farmer on the slopes of Kula. My red-wiggler livestock lives in a pair of plastic 55-gallon drums, mounted crosswise on a structure made of 2-by-4s. The scaffolding is triangular —it’s like an A-frame chalet for, uh, worms.
Except now, I was barreling to town in hopes of getting some answers. Something had happened to my herd (probably not the right term for worms). After many years of breeding worms so plentifully they would curl off the trowel like cartoon characters, they had disappeared. And then, after I replenished the supply, they disappeared again.
As informative as the workshop was, we didn’t come to any definitive conclusions. Worms are susceptible to ants, I learned. You have to watch their consumption of coffee grounds. Oh great, I thought —my guys had gone out in a blaze of Starbucks-induced mass frenzy.
One thing clear is that worm wranglers are a breed apart. We can see, for example, worms’ intelligence. Worms know how big their space is, and practice responsible reproduction methods. They eat organic. They live within their means.
Worms have lots to teach us about the circle of life. It seems fraught with drama when you’re in the middle of it, but reveals harmony and something approaching perfect balance if you can just step back for the longer view.
The circle of life is also there in “The Iron Lady” — well, the British version of the circle of life, which you do with a stiff upper lip. This drama provided a Golden Globe for Meryl Streep’s portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
In fact, the portrayal is better than the film. Baroness Thatcher worked hard to develop that icy demeanor and stiff spine over decades of leading England’s Conservative Party. Her career was a triumph of ambition, as opposed to warmer, fuzzier stuff.
But what’s creating new controversy in England is the film’s portrayal of Thatcher’s descent into fragility and dementia. Streep’s immersion into this realm is a feat of courage as much as her always consummate art. The “Iron”in the title could be short for ironic, in light of Thatcher’s current vulnerability.
Elsewhere at the Golden Globes, things were considerably more reassuring. It was heartening how, in so many cases, the voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association cherrypicked exactly the right choices. The awards for Michelle Williams, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, the one for “The Help” and the bunch for “The Artist” all seemed just right.
And at the end of the evening, it was “The Descendants” taking some of the biggest prizes, with George Clooney, director Alexander Payne and company thanking the people of Hawaii for their part in making this film so wonderful.
I know, I know … I’ve got the email complaint from Occupy Maui about Clooney’s sympathetic portrayal of a descendant of early haole ancestors who stole the land from its original “owners.”
The emailer may not have noticed that the Golden Globe ballroom was full of Occupy Beverly Hills sympathies. They just happen to be held by the most gorgeous one-percenters on the planet.
The movie is about people, not economics. Clooney’s character is paying the price for past sins. Lots of them. And besides, Gabby Pahinui had as big a role as George in making the film so enjoyable, providing a touching glimpse of this unique place we live where, amidst the crazy chaos, perfect days are still possible—sometimes one right after another.
• Contact Rick Chatenever at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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