Friday, March 8, 2013

Remembering Hana

The last two days I haven't just felt it, I've seen it. Spring is coming. 

The sun is warming the concrete, all our piles of snow are finally changing contour - revealing wet, matted grass, and a mild breeze is tossing the bird feeder back and forth. 

Just this morning, I caught a glimpse of Martha's yellow crocuses rising. So before our world thaws completely, I want to tell you about our Maui trip from last November. 

It feels like a dream. So much has happened since then. Things have changed - huge things, small things. Life has turned unexpected corners, and sometimes, it feels as if we never went. But carrying me through the cold months, have been random memories. Like the loud slap of water on rocks, the view of island mountains draped in cloud, the feel of tucking my feet into warm sand.

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When we first arrived we spent a couple days on the west side of Maui - along the Ka'anapali Coast. It was lovely - the beaches were white, the resort beautiful, the people friendly. But I hadn't gotten used to the fact that we were without kids. Everywhere I looked, I noticed the children.
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Our first evening there, we watched this young family walking up the beach. Their littlest boy bent over to dabble in the sand with a stick. Just as I was taking this shot he called out, "Mom! Look! I wrote my name!" Made me miss our little people.

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But back at the ranch, the kids were reading with my Dad and enjoying themselves (dutiful nose-picking and all). So when my Mom sent me this photo, I realized everyone was doing just fine. It was time to let go.

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We enjoyed the restaurants and shops of Lahaina.

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Doug even ate carrots. But only for the kids. They like to give him a hard time. (Have I mentioned before that he detests carrots?)

We loved Ka'anapali but once you've stayed on the east side of Maui, where it is quiet, more solitary, and so very lush, you get an itching to make the drive. I was anxious to hit the road.

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After lunch in Paia, we began the drive to Hana. We stopped for a few minutes at Hookipa to watch the windsurfers. 

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Then we went on, rounding the twists and turns of the Hana Road, crossing the one lane bridges as a light rain began to fall. The vegetation began to change - grow thicker and greener. This lookout over the Ke'anae valley is one of my favorite stops. I adore that white steepled church and churchyard.

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The closer you get to Hana, the more frequent the fruit stands on the sides of the road. Hasegawa's is the only grocer in Hana and you never can be sure if you'll find what you need. So we packed a collapsable cooler and filled it in Kahalui with necessaries for meals and cooking. But fruit? You buy it at the stands. Fresh, daily.

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I bought guava and lilikoi jam here for a few friends at a fairly good deal, but ended up paying $45 to get them home. Didn't realize jam qualified as a liquid and... yup, it was in my carry on. So I had to step out of the security line and dump my precious jam or return to the ticket counter to check my bag. :( I checked my bag. 

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Once you come into Hana, you notice the mountains, the lower slopes of Haleakala, the green grasses, and the cows grazing along the road. This part of Maui is made of heavy rain forest. Some call Hana "the land of the low-lying clouds" because most days trade winds off the Pacific, carry moisture-laden air up the northeast slopes of the volcano. As that moisture rises, it cools and condenses into a cloud layer that frequently rings the mountain. The winds bring light rain along the shoreline and heavier rain higher on the mountain. 

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A rainbow greeted us as we turned into the driveway that led to our cottage.

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This was home for the week. The Hale Manu house, which means "bird house," perched on a small hill.

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Front entrance.

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Reading desk.

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And fresh flowers on every table and countertop.

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The sun was setting as we settled in and I couldn't get over the silence - the wonderful, much-needed quiet.

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Come morning, I stepped out to photograph the garden. Red ginger.

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Hibiscus of several varieties.

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Blue ginger.

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Torch ginger.

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And these creepy fellas. They never seemed to move, but they were as big as my palm. Common garden spiders, known as Argiope or "writing spiders." Named for the zig zag seam they write.

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After breakfast, our first stop was, Hamoa beach. Hamoa was a daily ritual.

In his novel, Hawaii, James Michener described Hamoa as the most beautiful beach in the South Pacific. I have to agree. It's small crescent moon of salt and pepper sand is frequented mostly by locals, has great body-surfing waves, and is trimmed by palms and black lava rock.

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We staked out the same spot every day. Doug read his Fortune magazines and swam for long stints.

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I read too. And swam shorter stints. 

The other two times I've been to Hana, I've read Gift from the Sea. This trip, I figured it was time to buy my own copy and mark it up. It's remarkable to me that Lindbergh could craft a book so timeless. It always speaks to me. No matter the season of my life. I find her truths circular, steady, comforting, and I simply apply them in new ways. 

Her words remind me it is okay to dig out from the constancy of caregiving, the throng of children, and spend some time alone. It is how we refuel and find ourselves. 

How can we touch others if we are not in touch with ourselves?

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Anne writes of all the shedding that comes with island living. We wear less, carry less, need less, and not just in physical ways. Day after day we shed a little more of what burdens us, clear out the clutter in our heads, slough off the layers we thought we needed. 

Really, we need so little.

Two weeks in Hana would have been perfect. One week and I was barely starting to get inside myself, route a clear course, see the forest for the trees. Anne always brings me back to the simplicity of life, the importance of relationships, but also of solitude.

A favorite passage:

"It is a difficult lesson to learn - to leave one's friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. For me, the break is the most difficult. Parting is inevitably painful, even for a short time. It is like an amputation, I feel. A limb is being torn off, without which I shall be unable to function. And yet, once it is done, I find there is quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before. It is as if in parting one did actually lose an arm. And then, like the star-fish, one grows it anew; one is whole again, complete and round - more whole, even, than before, when the other people had pieces of one."

In solitude, our core - our inner spring - can be refound. 

It had been a long time since I'd spent this much time in quiet - reading, thinking, and just being. It was so good for me to hear the silence. In the silence I discover what I need. And what they need: the ones I love.

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Mornings we woke for sunrise, watched it fill the ocean sky with light.

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And more light.

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Doug caught up on the news. (It was the week of the presidential election.)

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I read. And found this artwork by Sami in my study journal one morning. Her smiling sun made me happy.

After reading, we would run. But more on that and the Hana Road in the next post.

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We visited Wai'anapanapa state park. 

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Walked on the black sand beach.

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Ducked into the lava tube. Where we collected smooth, black, lava pebbles for the kids.

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Another day we trekked into Haleakala's National Forest, past this incredible banyan tree.

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I had to do tree pose IN the tree, right?

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We hiked across bridges, past waterfalls, and into these bamboo trees - which had me totally fascinated. Don't they remind you of the Truffula trees, in Dr. Seuss's Lorax?

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The African Tulip trees popped magnificently against the green.

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Then we arrived at our first destination: The Bamboo Forest. This place is magical, haunting. When the breeze blows, the trees breathe, and the bamboo spires knock. It's a hollow, gentle knocking. Like language, softly clapping itself into the air. 

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The last time we were there, I wrote a poem about these bamboo spires - their tiny leaves, damp and wispy, reaching heavenward, creating a temple of sorts, where we fling prayers onto an altar, and hope God will hear our own hollow knocking. 

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Exit the bamboo forest and find yourself here. Waimoku Falls.

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Stunning, remote, inaccessible without effort. 

Kind of like that place of harmony that can happen in relationships that are real, unpretentious, selfless. 

I don't think Doug and I realized how long we had gone without truly talking. Without connecting like we should in a marriage. Raising a young family is so busy. It is merry, gratifying, and joyous. But it is also painful at times, messy, and exhausting. We pour out all we have on their children, rarely saving much love for each other. And yet, that is the relationship that must remain intact and strong if our children are to flourish and feel safe. So I'll leave you with one more thought from Mrs. Lindbergh. 

"The dancers who are perfectly in time never destroy 'the winged life' [from Blake] in each other or in themselves... 

When the heart is flooded with love there is no room in it for fear, for doubt, for hesitation. And it is this lack of fear that makes for the dance. When each partner loves so completely that he has forgotten to ask himself whether or not he is loved in return; when he only knows that he loves and is moving to its music - then, and then only, are two people able to dance perfectly in tune to the same rhythm."

I have much to work on when it comes to loving like this. But time together, away, made it easier, reminded me we are meant to move like that, dance like that.

Next up? More of Hana, the beautiful Hana Road, and driving to the top of Haleakala.


  1. How your writing inspires me. I have been to Hawaii 4 times, but this was a different Hawaii than mine (which I loved). I need to go back and find yours.

  2. Once again, I am so filled by your post. Thanks! You took pictures of Hana like I wanted to take but didn't have the skill to accomplish. Now I can look at these and remember what it really was like. :)
    Also, thanks for your recent post about the baby blessing. It helped soften the pang of not being able to be there.

  3. Howdy stranger ;)

    This pictures are gorgeous...what an amazing place.

    I am just loving the picture your daughter drew in your book...priceless!

  4. Candice - you can't go wrong in Hawaii, right? :) Sure love you.

    Abby - so sweet to hear from you. You were missed at the blessing, as well as Kara's sisters. Hoping you are well. It's always so fun to see you and your darling kiddos.

    Mike - yes, howdy to YOU stranger! I've been meaning to email you. Doug's parents are in NZ on a full-time public affairs mission for the church. I wonder if you might meet up at some point. I'll have to get in touch with you. xoxo

  5. I love to read your writing - the idea of being alone in my thoughts and having silence all around me makes me feel so envious of your break although just reading your words made it seem like I was there with you. Thank you again for such beautiful words. Your friend from Australia Jo

  6. My husband and I went to Kauai in January and I too photographed the flowers and spiders. I too loved the light and peace an reconnection with my husband. Our was the perfect respite and I am craving it again!

  7. Reading this post made me feel so much like this is exactly what me and my husband need! I am such an "ants under my feet" kind of gal and need new places and new experiences to rejuvenate me; my husband needs quiet, alone and carefree. After reading this post I told him we *have* to put Hawaii on our "serious list" in the next couple of years. It also made me decide we are going to get away for just a simple over-nighter for our anniversary (this weekend). It's always tricky leaving Michael, but 16 hours away from the kids is better than none!

  8. Such beautiful photography Catherine!

  9. Jo - I think of you now and then and wonder how you're surviving! Are you hanging in there?? That silence and time you can break away will come. It really will. Until then, hold on... Sending you lots of love.

    Cheryl - I've never been to Kauai but it sounds magical. Similar, I think to the east side of Maui. xo

    Liz - I totally agree. Even a few hours away can put you back in sync again, give you time to see things more clearly. I don't know how you've managed all that has been required of you this last year plus. Continuing my prayers for you and Michael. xo

    Sarah - love you.

    Erin - Yes, it was!


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