Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nani Hawai'i

("Beautiful Hawai'i")

The Big Island is a sort of living visual aid to the whole idea that out of death comes new life.  Along the Kohala Coast is a sweeping landscape of lava fields, dried and black as the night sky.  Rocky, rutted, barren, harsh.  But then you look close and notice all the yellowy green shooting up between cracks, much like the shrubs you find in the desert southwest.  Plant life is a stubborn thing on the Big Island; lava be damned! 

Hiking across the Kilauea Crater presents an abundance of life bursting through the cracks and sinkholes.  Red, yellow, orange...colors rich and in full bloom.

The air along the coast is intoxicating, a mix of saltwater and plumeria. 

Move south and east, nearer the Kona Coast, and the air smells of a dank but deliciously vibrant coffeehouse.  Lush, tropical rainforests line the roads along the 20 mile wide and 2 mile deep "coffee belt", and house some of the most unbelievable plant life.  And the produce grows wild and uncontrollably...pineapples, avocados, bananas, guava, lemons, and, don't forget the macadamia nuts.

The gentle trill of the zebra dove dances on the tradewinds as they sweep their way from west to east, disarming tourist heads of beach hats, and inner tubes from a child's grip.

The Honu turtle sunbathes lazily on the lava rock beach, and the eels slither along the shore at night.  The koi fish watch you as you make your way down a wooden walkway.  Stop to take in their vibrant colors and they all swarm to your reflection, anxiously awaiting the stray crumb that never falls.  Walk slowly, and they follow you to the end of the pond.  Funny fish, those koi.  I must have looked like a wobbly giant from their fish-eye's view through the turbulent water.

Young boys practice their lassoing in the front yards of farms that push back, deep into the innards of the island, nearer the mountain peaks than the seashore.  The air is crisp and cool higher up.  Tall pines shoot straight up from the ground, towering over you along the road through town.  How different it is just a few miles inland.

The sun bakes.  The winds flex their mighty meteorological muscles and force umbrellas shut, eyes closed, and skirts held tight around the hem.  The relaxation inducing sounds of the ukulele begin to dance through the air as the sun makes its final descent into the ocean.  We sit in the large wooden beach chairs and watch until the final sliver of sun dives beneath the horizon, then wait for the explosion of color to appear as night begins to set in. 

That oh-so-familiar aroma of oil and coconut on sunworn skin.  The tangy freshness of a fresh cut pineapple.  The welcoming smile and "aloha" of passersby.  Birds of every color singing every tune under the sun.  The calm rush of waves on the lava rocks followed by the trickling sound of the tide rolling out.

Every day is the same, yet every day more beautiful than the last.