For the past month, ever since I took in the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art, I pop into my local Kauai library to spend time with Ansel Adam’s first edition The Islands of Hawaii. (Copy is by Edward Joesting—let’s not forget the person whose words appear on the page. No, let’s not forget the writer.)
I’m in love with libraries. You could say I grew up in one. Instead of high school dances, I went to my local library outside Chicago. I loved its nooks and crannies in the old, stone building. I loved the public reading room where I discovered science books on animals. I loved the “stacks,” where I flipped through the classics, holding the pages in front of my face, so I could catch that signature scent of old paper. I loved the “free” cart in the alcove by the back door, my source of things my classmates were learning first hand at those dances.
The Kapaa Public Library on Kauai’s East Side is made of concrete block walls and a tin roof. It’s comprised of one L-shaped room the size of a basketball court divided into areas using bookshelves as walls. The building itself may not be as inspiring as my childhood one, but I still love the Kapaa Public Library.
When I walk in, Lani Kawahara gives me a faint smile and heads in back to retrieve Adams’ book for me. Today, I am studying Adams photographs of Maui, as I prepare to head there tomorrow. And, of course, I am writing this while sitting at a yellow Formica-topped table that glares under the bank of fluorescent lights running the length of the room--I almost want to trade my reading glasses for my sunglasses. Novels wrap around behind and to my side to meet up with the section on travel. I couldn’t be in a more perfect place.
My travels this past month took me to Kauai’s Napali Coast for research on kapa, Hawaiian barkcloth. I spent two days with Sabra Kauka at Nu`alolo Kai. I spent a couple nights at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge helping survey Newell’s shearwaters. I also went to Oahu and heard Na Pali Trip perform at Kani Ka Pila Grille—and saw the Ansel Adams/Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit. And my friend Pam and I hiked around the arboretum area in Kauai’s interior on a photo date.
All in all: a good month.
Next up: Maui.
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