I sometimes take living in Paradise for granted, and it takes a guest to help me appreciate it. I recently hosted a fellow beachcombing friend, visiting Hawaiʻi for the first time. She was happy to experience the authentic Big Island through normal activities that make living here such a pleasure. And in doing so, Debbie helped me see and appreciate my Hawai‘i with fresh eyes – through her eyes.
On arrival, she wanted to treat for supper. But instead of a restaurant that evening, we stopped for salads and pineapple, and took them to Anaeho‘omalu Bay. Skirting around the closed park gate, we slipped to the beach. In the dark everything looked different, and we wound up picnicking on the wall near the Royal Fish Ponds. We indulged in our simple fare, squished our toes in the cool sand, and listened to the ocean waves just over the sand dune.
Once satiated, and now with eyes accustomed to the half-moon light, we found the beach chairs. For the next half hour, we lounged, viewed the moon and Venus, listened to the waves at our feet, chatted, and sometimes meditated. She was so delighted that it’s inspired me to greet every visitor with a toes-in-the-sand first stop.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: I have been in love with Hawaiʻi since 7th grade, when a cute boy joined our California class from Hawaiʻi. I immediately learned as many Hawaiian words as I could; posters went up in my room and I began my fascination with vintage Hawaiiana. Diane’s introduction to the Big Island turned my obsession from longing into reality. I was well rewarded for my patience.
As my time there progressed, I began to see it more as something to feel instead of something to get. That night, lying on lounge chairs under the moon, watching swaying palm trees and hearing island music float by on the breeze was magical – a great opportunity to practice letting things happen instead of seeking them out.
The next morning, Debbie requested a trip to Hawi’s Farmer’s Market where her daughter is a vendor. Abilene’s been here for eight months, first as a woofer and now as a care-taker for a small farm. She bakes banana bread, makes chocolate and offers a wicked-good lilikoi-limeade drink with chia seeds. Debbie hadn’t seen her for seven months, so this was a very happy reunion. I slipped away to give them some private time. But after the market, we joined Abilene at her farm, where she eats and cooks in a roofed but open-air kitchen and sleeps in a tricked-out school bus.
This was my first time at the Hawi Market. They have a perfect location, under the giant banyan trees in town. As with our Honoka‘a Farmer’s Market, people congregated at picnic tables, eating and visiting with friends.
I found a long-time friend who also happens to be my custom-computer guy (Falcon Computers), and it reminded me that we live in a small world on the Big Island. After a hearty hug, Shaun informed me that my new lighter-weight computer was in and would be ready for pick up later in the week. This computer will make my backpack about three pounds lighter in my upcoming travels. What I really love about working with Shaun is that he knows me so well that he was able to recommend some specific upgrades and downgrades to match my usage. THAT is what living in a community means.
Shaun’s son wandered over with a basket full of colored soaps. The 10-year-old makes them and sells them at the market – such a wonderful way to build life skills. Of course I made a purchase – a green heart-chakra soap.
Any of these Hawi moments would have been worthy of its own blog essay. When you are fully present to each moment, you can have a very rich life indeed.
On our way back to Honokaʻa, I spontaneously turned to the beach at Kawaihae. We wandered the beach, picking up a few treasures before heading home.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: The tumbled pieces of orange and white coral on this beach fascinated me with their resemblance to other living things. It reminded me of the Japanese art of Suiseki, which includes the appreciation of nature through stones. Though I only took a few home with me, I left with a smile on my face.
On Sunday, Debbie wanted to go to the Honokaʻa Farmer’s Market. Good thing, as I had coconuts to sell. I took them to the Hāmākua Agricultural Cooperative’s booth. The Cooperative takes a 30% commission, well worth the price of managing all the sales.
While there, I met Roy dropping off his many cartons of fresh eggs and cooking bananas. He gave me a bunch that was just turning. Can’t wait to sauté them in some butter and brown sugar, or grill them in their jackets.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: I will never forget my time at the Honokaʻa Farmer’s Market. I watched as commerce and conversation mingled with the beautiful voice of a young singer wafting through the market. Roy chopped open a coconut and offered it to me. After I drank it down he said to me, “you know what happens when you drink that stuff? You get young!”
After a tour of the market to buy cucumbers, lettuce, and Roy’s eggs, we drove to the Waipiʻo Valley Overlook – such a meditative spot. We decided to take the scenic route through Kukuihaele, a small village, many of whose families once lived in the valley.
To our surprise, we came across two large turkeys displaying for a hen. They took no mind of us at all. In fact, I actually had to gently push them a bit with my car to get past them.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: Choosing the slow way to the lookout was SO worth it. I loved seeing the quaint row of plantation houses lined up along the road. The Japanese fan-dancer impersonators gave us quite a show trying to woo their intended mate. Then a few moments later, we witnessed one of the fattest rainbows I have ever seen.
There’s always something new to observe at Waipiʻo. This time I noticed how strange the waves looked when they crested: they appeared to be going both toward the shore and away from it.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: For me, seeing the Waipi’o Valley was a mix of emotions. Witnessing its beauty bathed my heart, while the specter of a tsunami to the people living in the valley made me sad for the victims of the past and fearful for the current and future residents. I admire them for their strength to accept the beauty and peace of now.
Much of the rest of the day, Debbie helped me with this year’s crop of macadamia nuts. I had been cracking my nuts for about a week and had enough shelled to make it worthwhile for Debbie to separate them into different sizes for roasting.
We also snacked on the fruits and veggies from Abilene: lilikoi, yacon and tangerines. She had also dug up some turmeric for her mom. Abilene said it was healthy for you, but Debbie wanted to taste it straight-up before mixing it into her smoothies. So we decided to “be brave” and taste it raw. Mistake. The taste (and the yellow color) stayed on our tongues for quite a while.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: I cannot help but laugh out loud every time I remember this experience. I count it as a badge of honor that we were brave enough to do this. Whenever I hesitate to take the opportunity to do something new, I will remember that, as bad as this picture makes it seem, I survived and am better for it!
On Monday, Debbie joined me at yoga at 8:30. Guests or no guests, I don’t miss Anita’s yoga class unless I am gone. Later we strolled through Honokaʻa to visit all the thrift and vintage stores. We both bought treasures at the Green Chair and Chi Chi LaFong’s. At Molly’s Green Chair, I scored a cute painted table/stool for my front lanai that I now use while donning my sneakers. My cat scored even more. She loves that little stool.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: DEBBIE’S VOICE: I so enjoyed Anita’s class. Her calm demeanor and clear instructions made me feel comfortably guided with each pose. And her lychees and pineapple were such a nice treat at the end! Thrift store treasure hunting is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world, especially in a place I’ve never been. For me, it’s about the history and stories of the items for sale. Where have they been? What do they carry with them?
Debbie’s visit even inspired me to stop at locations I’ve always wanted to explore, like the abandoned green storefront and the shallow lava tube on the way to Waipiʻo. We also stopped at the Lower Hāmākua Ditch, with its story of the immigrants who built it for the sugar mills.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: I loved hearing stories about the Hawaiian past. The green building enchanted me with my own made-up stories of what could have happened there over the years. The lava tube was so dark and mysterious! I marveled at how it came to be made. And the Lower Hāmākua Ditch showed me what people can do when they put their minds to it. All were examples of the spellbinding qualities of places.
It’s so easy to appreciate my little world when I have guests, and I thank Debbie for taking me on this rich and restful stay-cation.
DEBBIE’S VOICE: I am so grateful to Diane for the helpful guidance, the wonderful conversations, the hospitality and her loving kindness by being my host and my friend. Till next time!
My other essays on Hāmākua Harvest:
On Macadamia nut harvesting and roasting
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