Saddle Road, Milepost 47

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Long shadows from clouds smudged the tones of the earth together as I drove home with the windows open, the smell of rain heavy in the air. The land on either side of the road was wide open, but I’d see a tree every once in a while with scant clusters of leaves on each branch, like a grey hand with a jade ring on each skeletal finger. 

 

Tawny horses with liquid black eyes arched their necks over fences to chomp on overgrown grass, and everything was blowing west—their tails, the grass, pieces of dandelion fuzz—with shapes rippling like something out of a Van Gogh painting. 

I kept driving until milepost 47, when I saw a flash of red, black and yellow. There, on a segment of wire fence, were signs in protest of TMT. Pulling over, I read the signs closer . . .                                                                  

RESIST

 'ONIPA'A

MAUNA

KOA O KEAWE

The messages, painted on wooden boards side by side, stood like a fortress protecting Mauna Kea itself, whose arches seemed to watch from far back on the horizon. 

As I drove further south down Saddle Road, a vein getting closer to the heart of the island, I came across another sign that was smaller and easier to miss. White paint chipped from the wood and small splotches of mold gathered in the corners, making it look like an artifact recovered from the bottom of the sea. And there, in aqua spray paint, it read:

ALOHA ʻĀINA

For some, these signs are Easter eggs on the side of the road, easy to drive past without a second glance. But even with their chipping paint, the signs are hopeful. They wait patiently, confident in what they stand for. It’s as if they know that some late afternoon, a driver will pull over to read them. Even for those who don’t know the full context or don’t understand the Native Hawaiian language, the signs all send the same message . . .

WE ARE STILL HERE

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