Buckets, Cans, and Toilet Paper by Ryan Potter

Six months ago back in Honolulu; seven of us had the joyful task of packing all the food we’d be bringing out for our seven month field season on Kure. Plastic five-gallon buckets were filled with cans of fruits, vegetables, soup, chili, and an array of other items like rice, cookies, hot sauces, or oatmeal packages and topped off with rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. It was a bonding experience in ways as many good laughs were had and many jokes for the season were born during those days.

Once we and the food made it to the island, everything went into storage under the bunkhouse and was incorporated as needed into the standing supply of food and goods already on the island in the main house bucket room. A trip to the ‘store’ for us was a walk under the bunkhouse looking for the bucket that had what you needed in it.

As our season winds down, in order to advise the summer crew what’s expected to be left come time for the field season changeover, we had the fortunate task of opening all of those same buckets. Every bucket was to be opened and each item recorded for quantity and date of expiration to help make an extensive food inventory list to send back to Oahu. You could imagine the delight when you find yourself sorting through 100-plus cans of black beans and come across a single random can of cream corn when someone failed in finding any a few weeks prior.  Or you find all the things you forgot you had packed like Figgy Pops or Marlin Jerky. If you asked me, finding out we had close to 300 rolls of toilet paper was a shock because back in 2015 our crew had a brief scare we might run out come the final weeks of that season (thank goodness we didn’t).

After the two and a half days of counting, the real excitement was seeing what items we could finish as we wrote down what we expected to leave behind. There were lofty goals to finish most of the canned fruit and most everything in our freezers. When looking at the numbers from when we started, it was also clear that staples for our crew have been nuts, dried fruits, all-purpose flour, and we also put a sizable dent in the oats and granola.

In terms of life on Kure, the food and supply inventories are a clear denotation that your time here is coming to an end– at least for the season. With ‘the date’ fast approaching, taking a moment to look back at all the same items that seemingly marked the start of this journey, you realize how long you’ve been here and that you don’t have much longer. A sense of nostalgia sets in with each passing tin can and there is the growing awareness you still need to make the most of your finals days on the island.

The countdown had begun but it is truly now getting serious. The summer crew is arriving in Honolulu and starting the preparations for their season and we’ll be busy here finishing out ours. With another full round of island restoration treatment (188 acres) and packing up our belongings, the beautiful life on Green Island, Kure Atoll will soon just be fond memories.

DLNR/DOFAW Kure crew-member,
Ryan Potter

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