I recently took a series of classes at our local community college in Honoka‘a on Aging Well: Living Well as Long as Possible. One of the units focused on belonging, connections and engagement with life. I feel so grateful that I can get a big dose of that every day in my little hometown, especially on Market Day.
Sunday I walked to the Farmers’ Market at Hāmākua Harvest. Drivers who passed me on the highway waved and beeped. Some of them I knew, others were just being friendly. When I got to the market, I was greeted by all my favorite vendors, and received/gave substantial hugs to friends I see here nearly every week. Everyone is excited that spring has arrived and the vendors have a wider variety of veggies for sale – tomatoes, green beans, beets, cucumbers, lots of greens, spring onions, the list goes on. Alma’s organically grown tomatoes and butter lettuce are to live for! Shannon at BEEing Aloha Honey, gives a $2 discount to those who walk or bike here; I took home a big jar.
The live music was already cooking with Dennis Padilla and Friends – so many friends that they had to add a second tent to shade all the musicians. Lots of people bought brunch at the prepared-food vendor booths and ate under the picnic tents while enjoying the music.
And we had a special treat. I had forgotten that it was May Day. Shannon brought a maypole and organized keiki (or at least tried to) for the dance that wrapped the maypole with ribbons. In Hawaii, May 1st is also Lei Day, a holiday established in 1929. Celebrating Lei Day is a big deal here. Schools even crown a Lei Day court of Kings and Queens to celebrate the Hawaiian tradition of making and giving lei as a sign of Aloha. It’s all about honoring tradition and fostering community.
At the market, I can count on seeing enough people to take care of business, too, often related to my other networks in town and my volunteering. I sold my last ticket for the Hāmākua Youth Center’s Hula Festival this Saturday. I also confirmed arrangements for this month’s Third Thursday Thrive (TTT) speaker (Shannon!). Volunteering with the Hāmākua Youth Foundation, TTT, and other groups is another way I have created my community and grown deep roots.
And I got the skinny on the Hāmākua Harvest Farm Festival, set for Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend. Of course there’ll be music (four sets of musicians), a hula presentation by the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua, food, 40 vendors, three educational presentations, a cooking contest organized and judged by our own food columnist Sonia Martinez; and for the keiki, the Hiccup Circus with acrobatics and juggling. The festival sounds like the gathering we have every Sunday, but on steroids!
As I reflected on my trip to the market, it hit me that this weekly gathering of Hāmākua Harvest vendors and their loyal customers has become its own little community. If you want to feel connected, go to your local farmer’s market every week and make friends. Or track down a Women’s Circle. Find a yoga class. Locate a meditation group. Learn to hula. Start a book club. Set and keep a regular date to beach comb, walk or swim with a friend. Find an organization that is meaningful to you and volunteer. Make a community. Hug often. Find your tribe. All of this will increase your odds of living well longer. Connect, belong, and engage with life.
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