A Rainy Day in…Kona

Arrived in Hawaii yesterday to find rain, and although it slacked off a bit in the afternoon, now on Sunday morning it’s pouring. And of course, the hotel’s sprinkler system just went on. However, I have travelled in the tropics enough to know that there’s a reason things are green, just like there’s a reason England and Eire are green, only warmer. So I brought a jacket and socks along with light shirts, and I think I will survive.

This edition of Left Coast Crime is a small one, thanks to the economy. However, from my point of view this also means that I get to see a whole lot of the friends who are here–dinner with Barbara and Rob from the Poisoned Pen, followed by drinks in the bar with Dana Stabenow. And work in the morning–now, this is my kind of writer’s retreat.

A touch of local color: Kona has the classiest form of graffiti I’ve ever seen. Now, I’m something of a connoisseur of graffiti, being a resident of California and particularly a resident of an area with Hispanic gangs jostling for superiority. Someone even graffitied my beat up and very rural mailbox the other week, decorating it with some kind of silver pen (and I would love to know if the word Joker that they left uncharacteristically legible is a comment on the artist, or on the resident whose mailbox it now adorns.) But here, the miles and miles of dark lava-flow hillsides on which the first tufts of grasses are just beginning to take hold are graffitied with…white rocks. Or maybe shells, I couldn’t check because I saw them from the jitney and not all the other passengers were coming to Left Coast Crime–had they been, I’m sure there would have been a universal outcry of “Stop the bus and let us investigate!” But for miles and miles along the black terrain there are declarations of I [heart] PEG and I LOVE STEPHANIE laboriously laid out in white rock (shell?) on any conveniently flat stretch of rock.

Where does the rock come from? is my mystery for the day. Do the lovelorn buy sacks of white rock at the nearby building supply? Do they fossick through the lava flow for a white stone here, a beige one there? When the letters begin to slip and fade, at what point is it permissable to adopt them for one’s own?

It’s now six in the morning, the coffee shop in the lobby ought to be open, and I can manage three hours of writing before my 10:00 panel. Aloha for now.

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  1. TheMadLibrarian on March 8, 2009 at 10:24 am

    All those rocks are bits of white coral from the beaches. People bring them up to lay out messages on the dark lava; once the words begin to become illegible, you can repurpose them for your own message. Slightly more eco-friendly than spray paint.

    Sorry if I took a little bit of the mystery out of it, but you would have eventually gotten out to inspect them and found out on your own.

  2. Kerry on March 8, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    What a lovely alternative to spraypaint! I love the idea of a message eroding (literally and figuratively) over time, but still leaving the raw material for someone else’s shout-out to the universe.
    Aloha, and have fun!

  3. Strawberry Curls on March 8, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    If there had been the time and it hadn’t been pouring rain, Merrily and I thought it would have been fun to spell out — Welcome Laurie R. King Language of the Bees out April 2009. But I fear that would have taken a great number of white rocks and such, and given the weather yesterday when we drove to Waikoloa, we would have been drown rats by the time we finished our contribution to the local graffiti.

  4. Merrily Taylor on March 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    And if I may add to Strawberry Curls comment, I was also fairly sure that while composing the white rock message to Laurie, I would fall on the very sharp lava rocks and severely injure myself, thus adding my blood to the message. Although come to think of it, perhaps that would have been appropriate for a greeting to an excellent mystery writer…

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