Have you ever imagined what it must have been like to pack up your most prized possessions and head off to start a new life in a place you’ve only heard or read about? I’m not sure I would have had the nerve to climb into a wagon, turn west and snap the reins, confident that over some distant hill, their version of a new life waited.
I just returned from a lovely vacation in Hawaii, where I spent some time learning about the history of the islands’ inhabitants and wondering about those who discovered and settled these lush piles of volcanic rock.
Just imagine it – they loaded canoes, tackled thousands of miles on the open ocean, finally found a safe harbor to land, climbed to the highest point and looked out over rolling hills of rich black—lava?
Since the earliest settlers came from the Polynesian Islands to the south, they left their beautiful, lush homeland, rich with all kinds of vegetation, and landed on a series of rocks that had less than 1000 native plant species. Still, they adapted, survived and flourished.
That ability to adapt is what, in my mind, makes those who settled the Hawaiian Islands much like those who settled the old West. For instance, on Hawaii, the big island, the teenagers have adapted. Because the lava is too rough and porous for spray paint, they use small water-smoothed white rocks to get their message across.
Even the animals have adapted (behind that sign, for as far as you can see, is lava and salt grass).
Whether in the old West, or the islands, the settlers took what they found in their new location and used it to make a home–a life. This resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze and humble me. I guess that’s why I write westerns.
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