We’ve been on vacation in Hawai’i for two weeks, and in spite of wondrous experiences, I miss my dog. Birds and flowers are impossibly red. Fish, which slosh back and forth in my mind even when I close my eyes, look to be designed by children with fabric scraps and no instruction on practicality. With each imagined wave, a spray of underwater sand swims off a peak and settles in a dip before the next wave gushes through. Interlaced chains of light form networks that quiver over the ocean floor. But I miss my dog.
We see mouths of eels gaping from holes in the lava. We see sea cucumbers whose surfaces look like sand, and flounders that are sand. We see fish we can’t describe for lack of vocabulary, short of pale attempts at color, translucence, pattern, fin-lyness, tassels, and a sense of elongation, teardroppedness, or flatness like a flake. Some schools of fish flow in synchrony, and some schools of fish bobble to personal whims as they nibble at the same coral bump. My dog bobbles as he chows at his dish: I miss my dog.
We see remarkably little ocean-bottom trash, just an orange rubber bracelet, a sheet of office paper, and an aluminum can. Signs for near-ocean property boast of the suitability for the “off-grid lifestyle,” which judging from prices, is a lifestyle far from subsistence. Hospitality personnel convince us they appreciate our existence. We take advantage of services we can hardly condone due to their environmental footprint. When we read the note to vacate our room for its weekly fumigation, we feel transient shame at chemicals used on our behalf. My thoughts linger on the flea treatment I give my dog every three months, the heartworm treatment every month. I miss my dog.
We buy organic greens in rich reds and chartreuse with fringes and curves. We buy red peppers, and we buy fish; and carrots, pineapple, mangos, and lemons–grown where and transported with what resources, we don’t discuss. We see determined children perform a hula show, and a professional dancer who flutters a joint of a finger: she moves like the sea. We hear a master of slack key guitar and we hear his entourage of musicians under a windy tent. The music is fluid. It has the energy of waves. I turn upward to the tent ceiling to sight fish that I imagine wishwashing above my head. And in the morning, at jagged land’s edge, I see ocean water kneaded by wind. The same wind throws branches and trees into our swelling creek at home where salmon already may spawn. The same wind throws branches and trees that already may interlace across the road that leads to our cabin, where my dog digs for rodents, where he barks and paws at chestnuts that now, in late October, already may dot the ground, and already may have been emptied by jays. I miss my dog.