That paradox summarized house-hunting on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. We wanted a house near Hawi, the picturesque little town across the strait from Maui.
Out of desperation, Adele and I purchased a twelve-acre macadamia-nut farm just outside town with an oblique view of the bright blue sea. The property had a dilapidated, yellow A-frame, an overgrown Japanese garden, and a gasoline-powered nut sheller inside a red-painted, corrugated-metal lean-to. The macadamia-nut orchard was encircled by a ramshackle fence composed of rusty sheets of corrugated metal and sections of industrial metal grating. Our plan was that the nut harvest would generate funds toward our huge mortgage.
July to March, nuts dropped day and night. Every day, we would sweep them up and run them through the de-sheller, increasing our selling price from seven dollars a pound to over fifteen.
It had taken us months to get used to the nightly rain of nuts hitting the buildings. “What was that?” Adele whispered around two one morning, bolting upright on our futon.
“I don’t hear anything,” I replied. Outside, the usual plink of nuts, with the far-off susurrus of the sea.
Then, I heard “crunch, crunch, crunch.” Followed by “snuffle, crunch, crunch, snuffle.” I grabbed the flashlight and ran outside.
Underneath the trees was a gigantic pig hoovering up nuts with his snout, his every crunch worth at least ten dollars to the Bank of Hawaii.
I yelled and ran toward him, waving the flashlight. “Shoo, pig, shoo.”
The boar lazily lifted his head, assessed my size and lack of tusks, then returned to vacuuming our crop into his maw. I grabbed a nut rake and ran at him. “Get out.” I whacked his hindquarters as he ambled from under the trees and through the flattened space in the fence.
I repaired the fence the next day but the following night he was back, flattening another section.
The Hawi Postmaster suggested hiring a native Hawaiian as they are the only people legally allowed to kill island pigs. Kai Kapule came out that afternoon with Keahe, a mutt about eighteen inches tall, and a large knife he called his “pig-sticker.”
Kai told us pigs may only be removed in the traditional manner. That night, we waited with Kai and his quiet dog until we heard the snuffling. Suddenly, Keahe gave a solitary bark and ran toward the pig. Kai was close behind, followed by me, with Adele bringing up the rear.
Keahe jumped onto the pig’s back and latched onto a porcine ear. The dog hauled back on the ear, hard, exposing the pig’s throat just in time for Kai to slice it open with his knife.
After all the squealing and thrashing, during which the dog stayed astride, the pig finally settled in the dust.
Only native Hawaiians may cook the wild pigs. Adele and I received an invite to the luau.