Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Every so often I stop at the Lookout Point on Diamond Head Road to enjoy the view of ocean and sky.  Turning around, I also like admiring the full-of-character rock fa├žade across the street.

Turning back to the ocean I spotted a little critter on the wall to my left, sitting by the trash cans, scratching himself where it counts.

We don’t have any squirrels in Hawaii.  This cute little animal may look like one, but it’s a mongoose, manakuke in Hawaiian, imported to control the rat infestations in the sugar cane fields.

As you know, back in the 1800’s, sugar was king in Hawaii.  The rats liked the sweet sugar cane and managed to cause major damage.  In 1883, some Big Island plantation owners imported 72 mongooses from Jamaica (that were originally imported from Calcutta, India).  Baby mongooses were then shipped to plantations on other islands. 

Interestingly Lanai and Kauai did not get any.  Lucky for them, because the mongooses did not relieve the problem; they compounded it.  Being diurnal animals versus rats being nocturnal, the idea of major rat control was a joke.

But the bigger problem was (and still is) that, like rats, mongooses also like to eat birds, and especially, those juicy little bird eggs.  Bye-bye native Hawaiian birds that nest on the ground.  The mongoose is implicated in the decline of the Hawaiian goose and the Newell’s shearwater bird.  

And if that weren’t enough, both rats and mongooses carry leptospirosis. 

Little mongoose, so cute and so bad!

I’m reminded of the last lines in Marge Piercy’s poem, “The Good, The Bad, and The Inconvenient”…

We eat to live and so do they,
the locusts, the grasshoppers,
the flea beetles and aphids and slugs.
(Add: rats and mongooses too!)

we do is simple, without consequence
and each act is shadowed with death.



“The greatest wonder is
that we can see these trees
and not wonder more.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “I think people tend to forget
that trees are living creatures.
They're sort of like dogs.
Huge, quiet, motionless dogs,
with bark instead of fur.”
~ Jack Handy

“Climb a tree - it gets you closer to heaven.”
~ Author Unknown

“Being a woman has only bothered me in climbing trees.”
~ Frances Perkins

“As a kid, I might have been psycho, I guess,
but I used to throw golf balls in the trees
and try and somehow make par from them.
I thought that was fun.”
~ Tiger Woods

“Trees are your best antiques.”
~ Alexander Smith

“A tree never hits an automobile except in self-defense.” 
~ American Proverb

"Someone's sitting in the shade today
because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
~ Warren Buffett

"A tree is a tree - how many more do you need to look at?"
~ Ronald Reagan

They were trimming the ironwood trees
in Kapiolani Park today,
not a job for someone with fear of heights!

A young man from Seattle caught my eye.
Check out his magnificent tree tattoo,
extending all the way down.