Monday, October 17, 2011

Bare Sugar Cane Fields Near Mama's Fish House


View of Haiku from Kuau, near Mama' Fish House.  Bare sugar cane fields.
 Driving recently through Kuau, just outside of Paia, and just past the famous Mama's Fish House Restaurant, I saw a glimpse of Haiku, exposed through the bare cane fields.  It was a tantalizing glimpse.  The double-bumped hill could be Giggle Hill, home to a big children's playground and park, or maybe Haiku Hill which is closer to the highway.  Usually, the sugar cane grows so tall, that it completely obstructs the view.

Actually the sugar cane is the view, most of the year. It is picturesque most of the time... fields and fields of sugar cane, like an overgrown lawn.  Looking at grass is kind of satisfying, and some researchers speculate that our enjoyment of grass derives from our early Hominid ancestors who enjoyed the African savannas 10,000 years ago.

But, while I like the view most of the year, on purely asthetic reasons, I don't like sugar cane in general because of the way it's grown here.  I'll touch briefly on my reasons here, but the topic deserves a much longer discussion.

I partly took this picture to get an idea of how long the sugar cane cycle takes, from planting the new sugar cane to harvesting it and then, burning the stalks in the field, and then replanting. I'm thinking it's a 6 month crop, but of course, I could just ask around. But the underlying question for me is when are they going to burn this field again? In 6 months? 8 months?  That's how sugar cane is dealt with on Maui, harvest and then burn - burn the stalks and all the PVC plastic pipes in the ground.

The burning releases ashes and PVC toxins into the air. So it can be pretty messy, and the gusty Maui wind will take those ashes and spread them around the island.  People who live in Kuau or Paia closer to these particular fields will get the brunt of the smoke and ashes.  Then, as the sugar cane fields are cleared, the wind will move the billowing red dust around as well.

There are some lovely vacation rentals in this area, along the street by Mama's Fish House, all operated by Mama's Fish House.  At the prices that the Inn at Mama's Fish House charges, I hope that they are all air-conditioned with air purifiers, to deal with those Maui sugar cane ashes, pvc contaminants, and red dust.


The street near Mama's Fish House with all the vacation rentals, across from the exposed sugar cane fields.

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