New Textures of Hawaii — Sunflowers

I was going to write a sweet little story about how beautiful sunflower crops have begun to replace the now defunct sugar cane fields. But in doing just a little research, the truer story is actually brutal, far-reaching, deep, complicated, and intensely political. And I don’t feel it is my story to tell, but I’ll try.

The short, ugly story is: American businessmen wanted the Hawaiian lands to grow their crops. In 1893 American businessmen took the land in a coup d’etat using the US military without the approval of the US government. American businessmen still have their land and water rights. Hawaiians were stripped of just about everything. Sound familiar? President Bill Clinton apologized to the Hawaiian people, but more than words, they want their sovereignty. This effort, no surprise, has been protracted and controversial.

But sovereignty aside, Kaniela Ing, Democrative state representative for Maui who chairs the office of Hawaiian affairs, is resolute in his view on the sugar lands, as quoted in The Guardian: “This is an opportunity for these historically greedy missionary families who created the sugar industry to … give back what is owed to the people of Maui. This is not too complicated. When you take something from someone the moral thing to do is to give it back.”

No surprise, I’m rooting for the Hawaiians and the land.

Maui February 26

First, a postscript to the whale-birthing story. Melody told us today that sharks are known to go after the whale placentas! Our kayak observers, Bob and Cindy thought: yikes!

When rain canceled Thursday’s Pupu Night, I whined to Melody that I didn’t get any of her famous chocolate coconut clusters. She took pity on me and brought me my very own—happy days! (And I am generously sharing them with Karen.)


Property manager Allyn loves to snorkel at our beach and collect beautiful shells—we were stunned when we saw what he had because there are never ANY shells ON the beach. But he has a huge collection, which he washes, scrubs, cleans, and polishes. Now he’s fastening them to picture frames and will be selling them exclusively at Martin and Macarthur’s in Whaler’s Village. Very cool! While admiring his work, Melody asked if she could use one of my turtle pictures to put in the frame when they display them for sale. I said, of course! What an honor.


Our beach walk often has a surprise or two. Yesterday Karen noticed a couple walking towards us with bunches of big, knobby yellow things. She stopped them and asked what they were—wild lemons was the answer! Then today a person had a perfect way to keep a beach umbrella from blowing away—tent clips and stakes.


A couple weeks ago, with Susan and Cal, we met a sculptor who had just finished a piece for the lobby of the Ritz, so today we went to check it out. A staff person saw us looking at it and was curious when we told him we had met the artist. He said staff gets many questions about the meaning of the piece; someone suggested they put M&M’s in its bowl. Karen and I can’t remember if the sculptor told us anything about the meaning of the piece, just that it was difficult moving it from studio to hotel. We have a call into Cal and Susan to see if they remember.


Last night MN Bob and MN David did the sunset ritual blowing of the conch shell.

Tonight Karen contemplated the meaning of life as a rain shower moved through. She says being in Hawaii is like a never-ending mediation on sky and wind and ocean.

Textures of Hawaii – Bananas

Aren’t they a cool plant? We have a banana tree outside our building that is just about ready to harvest. Melody, our property manager, says she likes to cut them down and then offer them to the guests. Hope we’re still here when that happens.

The first Hawaiians brought them from their home islands and found they grow easily here. It takes a couple years for a plant to produce its first bunch, then one or more bunches each year thereafter. There are about 100 varieties on Hawaii alone.

My favorite banana dish in the whole world is (drum roll here) … Leoda’s banana cream pie. Make sure you stop by their place at 820 Olowalu Village Road if you’re in the area for delicious, delicious food. And pie!

Maui February 24 & 25

What an exciting day! Are you sitting down? A whale gave birth right in front of our condo!

For over an hour I’d been watching a whale just sitting off shore, not moving, which never happens. MN guests here, Cindy and Bob, had also seen the same thing. They had rented a two-person kayak for the week, so they went to check to make sure the whale wasn’t caught up in fishing lines and needed help. So they were out there, observing, when suddenly a baby whale just popped up. And then breached! Quickly a few escorts whales arrived from Molokai’i and off they all swam. Afterwards Cindy and Bob noticed the placenta floating on the surface.

In other animal news, three green sea turtles beached themselves, which apparently they only do in a few locations around the world, Hawaii being one. When I was taking photos of the turtle on the property next to us, I noticed all their beautiful flowers and couldn’t resist taking some photos.

For lunch we went to Pacific’O, a farm-to-table restaurant (they have their own farm, O’o), which we’ve wanted to try for some time. Our MN condo neighbors, sisters Mary Ann and Mary Therese, highly recommended it, so we made it happen. The setting was a beautiful and the food delicious. For our viewing pleasure, we got to watch a good-sized group getting their first surfing lesson. At the end of the meal I had some of their own farm-grown coffee and purchased a couple bags of beans for home.

Back home, I took a couple of dips in the ocean while Karen read—she’s on her 5th or 6th book. We’ve made two trips to the local Barnes & Noble, but they are moving to the other side of the island next month, so Karen will no longer have easy access and will have to plan ahead.

Before dinner, Karen noticed we needed a few grocery things, so I took a quick trip to the store where I just happened to see two pallets of proof that Hawaiians love their Spam.

No sunset color tonight—very overcast. But I blew the conch at the appointed time and then we ate on the lanai, enjoying the nighttime breeze, tiki torches next door, and the ocean waves. Somehow I missed a sunset picture from last night.  This evening The Star Princess passed by the island.





Textures of Hawaii – Trade winds

One of the lovely beauties of Hawaii is the trade winds. Almost ever-present, it is the softest of breezes—a kiss—that keep everyone so comfortable, even with relatively high humidity.

Of course the Hawaiians named these NE to ENE prevailing winds long before white people arrived. But we know them as “trade winds” because the English-speaking, ship-sailing, cargo-bearing travelers relied on them for navigation and swift passage in the subtropics.

Trade winds are the most common winds here—90% in the summer and 50% in the winter. When there are no winds at all, the air feels heavy and humid. Then there are the beastly Kona winds, blowing from the opposite direction, and bringing heat, humidity, stormy weather, and/or vog (volcanic fog) to the islands. No surprise, everyone eagerly awaits the quick return of the blessed trade winds.