Beach Boys

The three men point right at my tank top, their mouths hanging open. They’re all freezing in this blasting wind at the shoreline. The Bearded One is with them, having passed me in the truck as I walked the mile to the ocean.


The beach boys – sixtyish “Brian,” barefoot and boisterous with a beer in his hand; “Dennis”, 72, Chinese from L.A., with an ancient terrier strapped in a harness to his chest; and “Carl,” a young Hawaiian who we just met – are all talking a mile a minute until I walk up.

“Aloha,” I say, trying to ignore their stares. “Seen any whales?”

“Aren’t you freezing?!” says Brian. “I’m freezing!”

Dennis shivers looking at me, and cuddles his dog. “Aren’t you from Alaska?!”

The Bearded One lived in Alaska for a few years back in the mid 90s and, in these situations, he sometimes tells stories of his dog mushing and gold mining adventures. No wonder Dennis thought I was from Alaska.

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“I’m from Seattle and this is not cold,” I say and notice for the first time every one of them is wearing a jacket. It’s 65 degrees but the wind is strong. “There’s no wind chill!” I say.

“Wind chill,” Brian says slowly. He ponders. He shivers.

I laugh. “It’s hormones, too. I’m always hot,” I say, wink, and Brian and the Bearded One both hoot.

We take a break from the conversation to scan the Pacific for whales. The season’s apparently slower getting started this year.  A few splashes, but no actual humpbacks.

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Brian, Dennis, Carl and a few others come most every evening as we do to look out at the ocean and just hang. Sometimes I bring home-made cookies. “Mike,” one of the regulars who lives right on the ocean says there are some whales out there, but not very many. He and his wife hear them singing at night. He remembers years when you could see dozens of babies leaping through the water across the bay. Where are they?


Clouds in the sky to the east turn brilliant orange and red, reflecting the sun setting on the other side of the island.

Dennis tenderly pets his dog. He rescues all kinds of dogs and brings turkey treats for Mike’s dog. He once told me, “Never buy a dog from a hippie,” and I started to laugh, but he was deadly serious. I didn’t inquire further.

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To the south, two different rain squalls sweep toward us on the horizon. The ocean is so vast, I can’t see it all at once and have to turn.  No whales, though.

And then I remember the big news. “Hey, did you guys hear? Malama Market is closing on Thursday!”

“No way!” says Brian.

“Yes, that was my response,” I say. The Bearded One is nodding. Everyone will really miss Malama’s.

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“Longs, too?” Dennis asks me. Longs is the drug store across from the Pahoa Marketplace where the Malama grocery store is, and where the new lava flow is now less than a mile away and moving fast, 300 yards a day. It could be in the Malama parking lot on Christmas. It could be on Aisle 3.

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“No,” I say. “For now, it’s just Malama and the gas station closing.”

“They’re bailing!” says Carl, surprising me with his vehemence. There aren’t a lot of any kind of businesses in south Puna. Then he smiles. “I mean, aren’t they, like, jumpin’ the gun?”

“I know,” I say. “It’s hard.” Not only is Malama the main grocery store for miles and miles, it employs 83 people. It’s where we’ve gone for food, gas and propane. Now we’ll go the other direction, north to Keaau and Hilo. But people in Pahoa and south Puna will have even further to go, plus if the lava takes Malama, it will be just a few hundred yards from the highway – a real game changer.

Brian shakes his head. “They don’t want to wait until they’re on fire,” he says. “Makes sense. It’s a shock, though.”

“They should build a berm,” Carl says, smiling.

“Like that guy, Albert – “

“Albert Lee!” says Carl. “I’m related to him.”

“He was on the front page of the paper,” I say. Albert Lee, who lives in Pahoa, bulldozed a 12 foot high berm to stop the lava or at least divert it from his house – with his neighbors’ blessing. Unbelievably, the lava stopped all on its own just in front of his berm. That was a different lava flow.

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Carl is really laughing now. “He’s a rock star!” he says.

It’s getting dark and the party for us is ending. Carl pulls out a fishing pole for some night fishing. It’s time I get around, leave all these good vibrations behind, bid goodnight to the beach boys and to the ocean and whatever whales are there. We’ll keep coming back. Wouldn’t it be nice? God only knows. Fun, fun, fun.

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22 responses to “Beach Boys

  1. I hear there is wind from new in law on Diamond Head. She once told me it was so cold she had to put socks on, to which I said, “Poor you!” 😜 she’s great!

    • I wear socks all the time! lol It’s the little grits that get to me, though. Not the “cold.” So I wear my socks and sandals just like I did in Seattle.:) (Annie closes her eyes!) Sometimes I wear “rubbah slippahs” (flops), and I don’t wear socks with them because of the between-the-toes-part, although I’ve seen some Hawaiians do it. I buy socks at Target for guests, too, for mosquito help. Mosquitos love ankle meat.

      I’ve corresponded once with Robin — a Facebook exchange of some kind — and she is great. Hugs from Hawaii to you and Michael. Aloha!

  2. “Aisle 3 LAVA” is really funny ha-ha…and then strangely scary to me. Such an odd environmental twist to have to deal with. Hope the whales return. Meanwhile, guess the Beach Boys will will be watchin’ you. Whoo!

    • Yes, Pierr, nervous laughter, that’s the feeling. 2000 degree molten lava inching down the gentle slope into the central business area of Puna. And hmmm, so far as the boys watching me goes, you’ll notice it’s only the ones over 60 who hoot. 🙂 Aloha!

  3. If the wind gets up the surf might too and then you can be a surfer girl all summer long [well, mine anyway] I had a colleague who hailed from Hawaii her last name was Lee and she had so much moxie – just like your Albert, that I suspect they are related! What a great thing to do and how very thoughtful of the lava to do his bidding! I have to agree about ‘Lava – Aisle 3’ possibly the best one liner so far 😀

    We’ve been enjoying a bit of our long awaited summer this week. I am sweltering in temps in the mid 20’s 🙂 It’s all in the acclimatisation isn’t it.
    I hope the whales come and sing to you – that would be the best Christmas present ever!

    • The surf was up this morning when I swam at Pohoiki! One surfer looked like Santa, long white hair and beard, as he rode a wave all the way in. We cheered and he giggled. Wouldn’t that be amazing if your girlfriend Lee was related! Hawaii is full of moxie. I used to surf in Galveston, Texas when I was young, in the 1960s. It was a belly board, green, and I have a picture of me with it…somewhere.:)

      Yes, acclimation is a real thing. Time and acceptance and what you once said — learning what it is to live in a place. They say that 80% of people who move to Hawaii leave after 2-3 years. And the top reasons are health care, family, and limited employment opportunities.

      Happy Solstice to you on Sunday, Pauline. Aloha! xo

  4. How sad the grocery store has to close 😞. I hope theres a last minute halt to the lava flow and normal service can be resumed. Merry christmas to you and Keith xox

    • I hope so, too, Cathy! The lava has slowed, but it’s still flowing over 100 yards a day. Yesterday (Wednesday) Malama’s had a half-price sale and I heard the line was out the door. The paper this morning explained that they decided not to try the berm thing because of liability issues. Mahalo for your comment and Mele Kalikimaka to you and Jason and the cats! xo

  5. Love the vignettes of life in the slow lane! Sorry about your grocery — sounds like it will greatly affect the community. (I do love the ‘Lava – Aisle 3’ as well. ;-)) You gotta have a sense of humor, eh?
    Sounds like you’ve got some heroes and villains in that beach boys group; and soon enough, maybe little Saint Nick, too! And I had to laugh about ‘wind chill’ at 65 degrees — maybe it takes a Northerner to appreciate the warmth of the sun. Merry Christmas — or should I say, Mele Kalikimaka! xoxoB

    • Mele Kalikimaka to you as well, Becky! And mahalo for your lovely comments and cyber friendship this year. You are a touch of lovely Olalla (although you don’t live exactly there, you’re close:), which I love, but do not envy the dark there right now. Sun-starved, that was me. Not that I can take much direct sun, but just seeing the RAYS does me good. Hugs from Hawaii! xo

  6. I so want to know why you don’t accept a dog off of a hippie…. Oh well will have to let my imagination run rampant. Thanks for another enjoyable post. Have the Beach Boys singing in my head, not a bad thing eh… Shame about the supermarket, was it a fire sale??? Sorry bad sense of humour 😀
    Have a lovely xmas and hope the lava decides to stop its unrelenting ooze x

    • LOL I think he had a bad experience with a hippie and a dog.:) I laughed because I’ve been called a hippie before, but clearly I didn’t fit his definition. Somehow I think the hippie’s dog was not well cared for, or even on death’s doorstep.

      It was a fire sale! Yesterday I heard everything was half price. I didn’t go…couldn’t bear the lines, etc. Aloha, and have a lovely Christmas yourself, Kym! xo

      • Thanks for the xmas wishes, Christi, and I hope you and yours have a lovely xmas in Hawaii. How exotic that sounds 😀 I know what you mean by lines of people. Just spent 5 hours doing my xmas shopping and I am soooo tired. Now I just need to wrap it all and do my xmas cooking….

  7. How exciting that the B.O. lived in Alaska! I just learned my “thing for today” :). Everything is slow this year. We are slow to summer and it was cool and raining yesterday. Maybe the whales are still here? Steve used to hear them when he would go fishing to while away the hours till it was time to pick me up from work (when I worked as a cook till the early hours of the morning) and often he would be fishing and hear whales singing and spouting quite close to where he was. That was back when we lived in Western Australia, one of their birthing regions. They come into the harbour in order to give birth and feed their calves up ready for that long journey to “somewhere else”…turns out “somewhere else” might just be Hawaii :).

    Never buy a dog from a hippie?! Pourquoi! Maybe because they would be so very fat and spoiled? ;). Lovely beach boys tale and both you and the B.O. have found your own little community again. I can see why the petrol station closed. Imagine boiling hot lava coming into contact with petrol! It is hard to imagine the only shop up and moving away. People are so used to convenience these days that when it up and moves away, they suddenly have to think about what they are buying and the frequency of their visits. We shop once a fortnight but it was tough for us to learn what to buy and how often we needed it initially. Kudos on the B.O. being one of the Beach Boys. I never knew…second new thing I learned today and it is only 4.42am! ;). Merry Christmas Ms Christi and to the wonderful B.O. and here’s to a nice mild Christmas with lots of whales 🙂

    • Aloha Fran! Oh my, should you ever meet the Bearded One, you will most certainly be the recipient of bounteous Alaska stories, stories of cold down to -70 F, of listening to 150 dogs howling and barking, of the Northern Lights, etc. The Bearded One is starting to tell Hawaii stories now. 🙂 I think the humpbacks that come here to have their babies in the winter come from Alaska where they’ve summered. Molly’s husband is a salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska in the summer and he sees the whales. They are so huge — adults are 50 feet long (15 meters) and weigh 79,000 pounds (36,000 kilograms)! How cool that Steve listened to their song while waiting for you. 🙂 I’ve never heard it…but I hope to. Mele Kalikimaka to you and your beautiful tribe. 🙂

      • You truly are home when you start to tell stories about where you are rather than where you have been :). Our humpbacks head to Antarctica…maybe they detour? ;). They used to kill whales in Albany where I used to live and had a whaling station there. It was operational right up till the late 1970’s but they closed it down and it is a museum now. There were lots of whales and now there are a lot more because they are protected and appreciated for their beauty. A huge whale is a thing of great beauty. They often used to bring their calves right in close to the shore and people would stand on the beach watching them frolic. Glorious stuff and they are HUGE up close. Isn’t the world an amazing place? 🙂 BIG hugs to the B.O. and you both :). I am loving your Hawaiian words by the way, they are gracefully beautiful and suit you to a “T” 🙂

  8. Here it really does get cold. Low tonight is 37 – High tomorrow is 63.
    Definitely not Beach Boy music here though I do run to “She’ll have fun fun fun ’til her daddy takes the T-bird away.” :))))
    The desert creates songs like Tumblin’ Tumble Weeds, Cool Water and Ghost Riders in the Sky. My grandmother had those records and, as a child, I listened to them over and over – heart haunted….perhaps I was destined to come to Tucson.
    The desert is a place of extremes and it sounds like the Big Island is too in its own way. I know I certainly would feel edgy with a lava flow taking out my closest grocery store!
    My son has been on Oahu since 1991. My sister lived there for 25 years. They definitely acclimated to Island life.
    When we lived on Oahu, the radio used to “sing” at Christmas – “Mele Kalikimaka…Ala Moana has everything!” Ala Moana being the big mall in Honolulu.
    So yes…Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays…and I hope you hear the whales singing.

  9. A very belated ‘Mele Kelikimaka’ back to you and the B.O., Christi; hope it was a good one. I, too, love that ‘Aisle 3 – Lava’ . . . It’s hard for me to imagine living so close to a live flow. And I had to laugh about the ‘cold’, too. But back when I lived in Victoria, BC, my sons’ dad and I got to know an Inuit carver. I remember being amazed at seeing him downtown in just a T-shirt and shorts in the mid-winter, when the temperature was close to freezing and we were wearing layers . . . so I guess it’s all relative and sooner or later, people adapt. I can barely imagine -70 and will be happy if imagining is the closest I ever come to it . . . Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, you two, and all the best in the coming year. ~ Linne

  10. Sending the very best wishes for peace and happiness in 2015. Eddie

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