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Maui Nei

June 21, 2012
By RON YOUNGBLOOD ( , For The Maui News

It's officially two days into summer. Up Waiakoa way, the weather seems more like winter - gray clouds and fits of wind blowing in showers. The rain is welcomed. The wind isn't, but it's a good metaphor for the evolution of Maui.

Most of the time, it's calm or there's just a breeze. No concern for man or beast. Cats in the yard are content in the shade, their delicate whiskers processing the direction and type of subtle aromas and sounds that might indicate some sort of danger. Gusts of wind strong enough to ruffle their fur make them nervous.

Earlier this week, the wind came a-howling. The big ti plant on the west side of the house rattled. Bits of jacaranda branches flew across the yard. The cats looked for secure places to spend the day. Baby Black snuggled up against a wall of fence-climbing glycine. Tubster took refuge in the garage even though the big sliding doors boomed as they were sucked in and out.

It took very little thought to exercise an option. A motorcycle is always the transportation of choice. Driving the pickup is an option for those days when loads are large, the rain is drenching and when the wind makes progress on two wheels a test of nerve.

Malone was snoozing on an old duffle bag left in the bed of the truck. A wind strong enough to snatch a cap was blocked by the sides of the truck bed. He had to be encouraged to jump into the open. He headed for the garage.

A diminished larder called for a trip to the market. The parking lot required some caution. If there is strong wind anywhere on the face of Haleakala, it will show up at Pukalani's shopping center. With the truck's back to the wind, getting out of the cab means keeping a grip on the door. A strong following wind once grabbed the door and slammed it forward, bending a hinge and buckling sheet metal. There was no need to repeat that lesson. As with most things, forewarning and adequate precautions precluded the need. As suddenly as it rose, the wind dropped. Good thing. Holding the door while fishing grocery bags from behind the seat would have been a juggling act.

The wind was only resting. It raked the parking lot. A woman struggled with a loaded cart. Steady it and get a smile by saying, "It's a real rocks-in-the-pockets day." Let go of the cart and the wind turns a clutch of grocery bags into a sail, sending hand and arm into an inadvertent wave at noone in particular.

It was a three-bag, one-conversation shopping trip. The bags, each one tied at the top, went into the truck. Conversation ensued when the grocery cart was returned.

She's an old friend, more than a little crusty and cynical. There's always something that seems to be yanking her chain. Today, it's politics and planning. She's not thrilled about voting for Mazie Hirono for senator, but she's even less enchanted with Ed Case. She thinks he and Steve Case are brothers and hates what has happened to Maui Land & Pineapple Co. since Steve ousted the Cameron family.

Actually, Ed and Steve Case are cousins. Their fathers were twin brothers. Old friend appreciates the correction but still thinks that's too close a family tie for good governance. The talk swings to discussing the "Pukalani Triangle." Plans are to turn the property into another mixed-use development.

The land was once the site of Corn Mill Camp, back when corn was being explored as a major crop. ML&P quit growing pineapple there after the Haleakala Highway bypass cut it off from fields on the Makawao side of the road. Of course, ML&P quit growing pineapple anywhere at the end of 2009.

Today, the triangle includes a fire station, horse paddocks, a feed store and lots of weeds. Its future is part of the argument over where development should be allowed at the expense of ag land and open space.

"They should sell it or lease it to Pukalani Superette," old friend said. "The market could grow their own vegetables or maybe have a full-time farmers market. No transportation costs. Just walk the stuff across the road."

The idea is as good as any. The wind blew away a parting shot about sidewalks down from King Kekaulike High School.

That was a couple days ago. Today, the sky over Kula is a sullen gray. There are drifts of fog. The cats are resting easy. There's nothing to disturb their sense of security. But, there will always be gusts of fury over how to control the future of our fair island.

* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is



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