I’ve had little time to think and write of late, as many small crises converge – from a sick elder dog to local political struggles to broken equipment to minor family exigencies, but there are always moments of grace amidst the scurrying and chaos, and one of the moments was seeing this photo in the bathroom of my veterinarian’s office. I immediately titled this photo in my head: The Richest Woman in the World. She is a dignified elder of native Hawaiian heritage. She is poor in material things – her house is old and ramshackle, there are no window panes and the foundation is buckling. This kind of house was and still is common in the area where I grew up – South Kona and Ka’u – although nowadays most such houses are either fixed up or abandoned and slowly falling down. But she is rich in a boundless peace and a connection to the world around her, she is rich in that native heritage and community which is so deeply place-based and family-centered, and she is rich in the companionship of her skinny but contented cats who sit at her feet amid the dust of her yard. It reminded me of Basho’s haiku:
Girl cat, so/thin on love/and barley.