Under the Sun


Whether you like it
or not, news happens

During the past two weeks, a federal court declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional in public schools, Hawaiian Electric's Waahila Ridge plan was rejected, ex-politicians Rene Mansho and Marshall Ige were sent to prison, airport officials were arrested on bribery charges, corporate executives continued to behave badly, Governor Cayetano vetoed various bills and ticked off legislators, an angry man killed people at Los Angeles airport, President Bush persisted in dismantling environmental protections, the Kailua fireworks display was canceled, the Supreme Court approved school vouchers, two tourists died -- one at the Blow Hole and the other in a bike crash on Haleakala -- Dan Cooke quit as KITV anchor, Herman Frazier was chosen UH athletic director and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs hovered around another leadership shuffle.

Lots of other stuff probably happened, but I was barely aware of any news developments, large or small. I was on vacation.

Working for the Star-Bulletin requires that I stay on top of events. My days are spent in front of an iMac reading not only news accounts but reports, studies and position papers. I watch hours of television news, enduring the babbling of CNN talking heads as well as informative broadcasts, such as The NewsHour on PBS. In the evenings and on weekends, I catch up with the dozens of magazines, newsletters and journals that jam my mailbox.

Absorbing news-related information can lead to mental overload, especially because most of it is bad or worrisome. I had reached a point where if I heard or saw the words "Israeli," "Palestinian," "suicide bomber," "homeland security" or "corporate accounting," I would shut down my brain.

I needed a break. So for two weeks I traded my daily news habits for daily surveys of the land around my Big Island house, swapped dress shoes for hiking boots and garden clogs, e-mail and Web-site perusals for bird watching and the keyboard for shovel and hoe.

Rather than dig through the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post, I scooped up real dirt -- thick, heavy soil in which to transplant native pilo, mamaki and Hawaiian raspberry cuttings. I mixed buckets of fertilizer and vermiculite to cultivate seeds from manele, mountain naupaka and one precious kernel of an olomea, hoping that someday these plants will adorn pockets in the forest between ohia, olapa, hapuu and amaumau.

I hauled loads of lava rock for a border along the dirt road in front of the house, took rainy walks through the village and toured a greenhouse where a botanist tends rare silverswords, among other endangered plants. I sipped morning coffee on the deck, took naps whenever I felt like it, watched "Trading Spaces" on daytime television, made sandwiches for an unhurried lunch or to pack for a hike.

I took in the town's Fourth of July parade, a genuine community event where most of the marchers are neighbors, such as the canine brigade made up of people leading their dogs along the route from the post office to the community center. The rangers from the nearby national park made their annual appearance and this year, inexplicably, parade-goers bounced hard candies off Smokey Bear's head, drawing laughter from everyone, including the rangers themselves.

Throughout these days of escape, I knew I'd have to pay the piper. Sure enough, when I got back to Honolulu, sorting through the snail mail, e-mail, magazines and phone messages took about three hours. Then there was the news to catch up with. After close to 13 hours, I managed to read through the highlights and, oddly, I didn't really mind. I guess news junkies need their fixes.

Still, the next time I take a vacation, I wish the rest of the world would take time off, too. We all need a break.

Cynthia Oi has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin for 25 years.
She can be reached at:

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin