We turned a right before a well manicured public park with a baseball diamond and large plastic children's play station. At the far end of the crescent that curved around the park we made another right onto a typical mid-Oahu residential street with red dirt stained plantation style houses, one in mid construction, it's 2x4 skeleton teeming with construction workers like the gibbon exhibit at the Honolulu zoo. The mailbox that should have been his was unnumbered and it stood at the hinged end of a tube steeled gate with signs that read no trespassing and beware of dogs. Beyond the gate a dirt road that looked to wind down and behind the houses at street level. I called to double check.
That's the one! He said. With the 'no trespassing' sign. Drive down, when the road forks keep straight till you see a backhoe.
What's a backhoe? Asked my wife.
A tractor, I said.
Tractor!! Said my two and a half year old son.
Halfway down the hill our 3 dog escort met us, skipping and barking on the side of our rental car. The dogs were his doorbell. Kawena walked out his front door with a smile and big greetings though I had not seen him in well over a decade. Maybe two? He showed us the property, the self-made wood kiln, stores of logs dumped by tree cutting services and now hidden by tall switch grass. He had purchased a Lucas Mill machine from Australia for splicing the logs into slabs and planning them flat.
Mostly he showed me wood. Beautiful wood. Acacias, mango wood, iron wood, Honduran Mahogany, gumwood, varieties I had never seen before with deep chocolate and amber tones, streaks of blue and marbled figure.
My sister took pictures, my wife and son played on a giant trampoline next to a decaying wood and straw hut and the Wahiawa stream. It was a kind of local Hawaiian life I had never been a part of. Somewhat disheveled but embracing of the climate and the abundance. Though I grew up on Oahu and still have ties, I felt a tourist here as I did in high school while weeding the taro fields in Waihole Valley.
The wood, I thought, could remind me of all this. Of the wildness and vibrance of the place. Its character and mysterious structure. It would be difficult to work with, the figure making it unpredictable in modern machines or under a hand plane, but with care it would yield much more than the art or furniture it was intended for.