365 Days

Today, August 4, 2019, marks the one year anniversary of our move to the Big Island of Hawaii. I look back on the past year with wonder and awe: the things we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the new sights and sounds and tastes and genuine sense of aloha all come together to assure me, again and again, that we made the right choice.

Man Against Palm Frond

Just the other day, we were walking through a parking lot and a rogue palm frond launched itself toward Rochi’s head. It missed, fortunately, and before you could say Kamehameha, a man had jumped out of his car and two other people came running from shops in the strip mall, all intent on capturing the offending frond and making sure Rochi hadn’t been decapitated. I was relieved, of course, and also deeply moved.

The Chicken Coop at Tim and Dottie’s

Later that same afternoon, we stopped by a friend’s place because we’re chicken-sitting while they’re back on the mainland. One chicken was roosting when I entered the coop and she gave me a fierce scolding fortified with a flurry of flapping wings and angry clucking. I could only smile and make my apologies. Two of the eggs I collected from the nests were still warm. I felt their warmth radiate from my palm directly to my heart. There’s an experience I never had in Japan, or anyplace else for that matter.

There have been so many new experiences that it’s hard to list them all and impossible to rank them in order of wonderment.
– I bought a car, learned to drive it and got a Hawaii driver’s license, in that order.

Lil Six

– We both took on, and conquered, the taiko drum…until it conquered us. But we were not too proud to admit defeat and took some valuable friendships with us when we left.
– I worked on costumes for the Kamehameha School’s production of Hairspray and then the U of Hawaii production of Rent, making more friends along the way and being grateful that my life experience came together in a way that made those experiences possible.
– I started to establish a credit rating even though I’m not sure I need one and took on the American medical establishment, which I wish I didn’t need, but not every day is rainbows and unicorns.
– I took a class in basic maintenance at the community college and learned a lot, earning along the way a renewed sense of empowerment, a very nice wooden tool box and more lovely friends.

Melissa the Welder and Teacher Extraordinaire

We’ve been to mountains and beaches and farmer’s markets and craft fairs. Food adventures are myriad, from the 85 year old Dutch Chinese man who brings us avocados and soursops to the barefoot hippies who harvest organic honey destined to sweeten my tea to Sunday breakfast and Friday night fish fry at the VFW to tomatoes and peppers and beans and pineapples and lemons and lemongrass all growing in our garden before my eyes as my fingers type these words. Just thinking about this bounty makes me smile, maybe even gloat a little.

It’s been a momentous year, challenging and exuberant and hard and thrilling in turn but all bringing out the best in us and helping us see the best in others.

I am practically drowning in gratitude.

Homemade Frozen Treats chez Leah and Mick

Twas Brillig

Today started gray and ominous but by the time we’d finished lunch, the sky started to clear. We figured that was a sign: Time for a visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. It’s pretty well hidden a few miles off Route 19 north of Hilo, so when we finally found it, we gave a whoop of joy.

At the bottom of the long and steeply sloping boardwalk that leads into the heart of the garden, there was a gardener who reminded me of both the Mad Hatter and Dustin Hoffman. Mad Dustin directed our attention to the orchids that were blooming above this sign. “Smell me,” it said. Obedient as a schoolgirl, I smelled, and my nose filled with the scent of warm orange cupcakes just out of the oven.

Curious but delightful.

We followed the paths as they wound past wonders big and small, oohing and aahing as appropriate. We saw no White Rabbit nor Cheshire Cat, but one little mongoose skittered along a handrail and out of sight before I could point my camera at him. Perhaps he found a rabbit hole of his own.

Just before we girded our loins for the trek back up the boardwalk, we came across a curious sign.

Note that the sign says ‘Beware of falling fruit’, not ‘Watch out for falling fruit’. Just what sort of hi-jinx is this fruit getting up to that calls for such vigilance? Does that mustachioed papaya lurking in the shadows mean me harm? Is the man in the trench coat actually an avocado in disguise? I am wary of fruit sold by the Philippine mafia, and hothouse strawberries always bear closer scrutiny, but surely your average pineapple or mango is fairly harmless. And who could ever suspect a banana of foul play?

Curiouser and curiouser.