Hawaii

Grit, Gall, & Limpets

James Cook died here. I suppose he had it coming—attempted kidnap of a king. I’ve always found that period of exploration alluring. I won’t overly romanticize it, but I can’t help admiring the grit and gall it required (but that same gall ended Cook’s life).

Those were along the lines of my initial thoughts when I landed back in Hawaii. I had been delayed a couple times in Saipan and finally rerouted through Narita. It was challenging but not overly unpleasant. I met a chemistry professor who talked about his lab and concerns for the lack of public knowledge or interest in science. He was earnest and wore these blue-striped socks that made me wish I had pulled a pair out while I was fishing around for The Left Hand of Darkness. As our in-flight meals of udon noodles served with plastic vials of Yakult (a sweet and tangy probiotic dairy product) rolled out, the deep blue of the ocean below was blipped out into darkness. Occasionally, the wing lights would blink or the clouds would move and moonlight would reflect off the plane. I probably started thinking about scurvy at this point. Cook served his crew sauerkraut to thwart vitamin C deficiency. I remember thinking about that before falling asleep on the shoulder of this wonderful Japanese woman. She was knitting a scarf and had me hold it out so she could admire her progress. It really was lovely.

I was still worn out by the time I had the legs to explore O’ahu. I had been to the major tourist sites years before and they’re all beautiful and fun, but I’m grateful for the local’s perspective I got while I was occupying my good friend’s couch for a few days. She had landed an hour before my flight and whisked me out for some hiking and poke.

I looked through my journal just now and realized the last note I wrote was something on limpets and “Cook’s goat sailed the globe. I wonder how he felt.”

So there’s that.