“I’m coming, too!” I call to the Bearded One who is spraying his tanned shins with mosquito repellant out where the truck is usually parked.
It’s between rain showers and I can’t go swimming this Monday morning because the truck is in the shop. The Bearded One just got his hat and stick and sunglasses for his morning walk, so I decide to join him on my new bike that I got for Mother’s Day – Pinkerbell.
“Yay!” he calls back and waves his walking stick. Lots of pit bulls on the Big Island.
It’s 9:30am, 68 degrees. It’s also Mt. St. Helens Day, I see in our Hawaii Tribune Herald. Thirty-five years ago today Mt. St. Helens blew, and I was in Seattle, just a hundred miles away. In church. Now I’m living less than 25 miles from Mt. Kilauea, currently active and rumbling – 25 earthquakes up there this weekend. Our daughters, one of whom is pregnant and had a baby shower on Saturday, still live in Seattle. I fly to the mainland, as we say here, late next month to welcome this grandchild, whose sex remains unknown.
I check the Magic Number – the solar battery read-out in the guest room – 85%. Excellent. This is the best of off-grid life. The sun charges the solar batteries and we don’t have to run the propane generator, and the rain keeps the catchment tank full. The solar system got some needed fine-tuning last week, and we’ve reached 100% every day since.
I walk through the tiny hallway of our 900 square foot 2-story Hippie House into the den and admire the working sliding glass door and the windows full of green and yellow light. The crocus looks like it’s on fire.
I step out onto the newly finished lanai. There’s the washer and dryer. And there’s Pinkerbell, dry under the new tin roof, ready for a spin.
Pinkerbell has a kickstand. As well as a basket, 7 gears, wide tires and seat, and is the hottest shade of pink outside of a lipstick tube. We bought her at Target, select Schwinns on sale 25% off, and paid $180 including tax and my Hawaii Bike License ($15) which will come in the mail.
My sister named her, although my brother came up with some good ones, too. My brother and I rode our bikes everywhere growing up in Houston, Texas in the 1960s. My bike was a blue Cruiser, a lot like Pinkerbell. His was a bit smaller and red.
I’ve ridden Pinkerbell every day since I brought her home on Mother’s Day. I rode her to the labyrinth last week and wowed the women. “Whose Schwinn!?” one of them cried out on sight. I ride my fairy bike up and down our rode a couple of times a day, inhaling the ocean breeze, looking at the vast sky.
Nala blocks me as I wheel the bike down the lanai, then lies on the step and meows. “Shoo,” I say. Nala sleeps outdoors now. Unlike in Seattle, there are no coyotes or raccoons here to kill outdoor cats. Nala will be a year old next month and she is a great hunter and companion, even if she won’t stay in your lap for 5 seconds.
Smoke’s in the air. Our 80-year-old neighbor starts his fireplace whenever it gets below 70 degrees. The Bearded One collects wood for him as he works the farmlet, spreading cinder soil over the lava, pruning the Monkeypod tree,
cultivating the pineapples (100+ yummy white ones),
transplanting palms and boosting the compost on the bananas. I wheel Pinkerbell around the house, past the huge mango that rains down mangos when the trade winds come, past the barbecue that’s already rusted, into the yard where the truck usually sits.
A huge dove crashed into it yesterday and busted the sunroof out of its weld. The Bearded One heard it from inside the house and saw the wounded dove, seemingly the size of a small turkey, and its mate fly off. “A great way to use up a chunk of bad luck,” he said.
We head out to the road, me pedaling slowly, the Bearded One marching his happy walk, swinging his stick.
We meet neighbors and dogs, everyone waves. The Rottweilers croon, the dog named Shane barks and wags hello, and the old man named Richard waves from his lanai with his dog JC. On our way back, a neighbor comes out to the road to introduce us to Kula, a silky soft 9-week-old Golden/Border Collie mix. “We got her at the Humane Society, half price off on all yellow dogs!”
The Bearded One and I don’t want a dog now. Or chickens. Or goats. Just a cat and each other. We go to the Maku’u Farmer’s Market on Sundays to get eggs and produce and farm honey, and a pizza for him. For now, we’re buying our meat at the grocery store in Pahoa, pasture raised beef, no factory chickens – until we go to Hilo and the Bearded One has to get chicken strips at Safeway. Along with sushi.
I think about these things as I ride my bike over the cinder gravel road, past the new construction.
There are 6 houses going in on our mile-long road. They poured the concrete foundations for two of the kit houses (roughly 1000 sq ft on 1 acre for $200,000) this past weekend. Tiny houses, indistinguishable from the Bearded One’s and my first rental in Seattle 20 years ago.
I get home before the Bearded One, park Pinkerbell back on the lanai and head in. Magic Number? 87%! Such a life.