Every morning, a couple of hours after dawn

a wispy yellow butterfly

leaves her sanctuary of tall dry grass and discarded afterthoughts

to sit for a moment

on moist Pahala black sand

polished by the Pacific Ocean’s insistent caresses

and seasoned with salt as old as time.

She performs this daily ritual

just because.

Kula Botanical Garden: A Jewel Set in Grandeur

Haleakala is a massive shield volcano that forms more than three-quarters of Maui Island in Hawaii.  Its name means “house of the sun.”  Legend says that demigod Maui lassoed the sun from this mountain because he wanted to lengthen the day so that his mother Hina could dry her tapa, a cloth made from bark.  If you’ve ever witnessed a sunrise from its peak of 10,000 feet, when the sun pushes the black night into the heavens for a time, you will understand its name.


The road leading to top of Haleakala traverses through Kula on the eastern slope of this spectacular mountain.  Kekaulike Avenue is narrow and winding and its landscape is a stark contrast to the dry, barren volcanic crater.  Upper Kula, or Upcountry as it is commonly called, is punctuated by rolling grassy hills, scented by groves of silver eucalyptus trees and, in late spring, graced by the blue flowers of jacaranda trees.IMG_0332axKBGSign

And, as if the overall grandeur is not enough to impress you, vegetable and flower farms entice you on your journey up the mountain.

The Kula Botanical Garden is a such a jewel.  It is at 3,300 feet above sea level and enjoys a dry temperate climate.

Its owners, Warren and Helen McCord, initially established this area in 1968 as a display garden for Warren’s landscape architecture business.   In time, the McCords transformed these eight acres into a tropical Shangri-la, with colorful and unique plants, rock formations, and the quintessential stream that meanders through the valley.  This labor of love continues to operate as a family business and delights residents and visitors alike.

Mahalo (thank you) to the McCords!

kula D

kula M

 kula Gkula Kkula A.1

kula O

kula F

kula C.1

kula H

You can learn more about Kula Botanical Garden at kulabotanicalgarden.com

A note on the photos: All are mine except the photo of Haleakala and the sign for the garden (on the garden’s website).

Waikiki’s Iconic International Market Place

Smack dab in the middle of Waikiki is the International Market Place.

While this may seem a typical tourist attraction, it is the legacy of a king and queen driven to establish a hospital  to “stay the wasting hand that is destroying our people,” as King Kamehameha IV stated In his maiden speech to the Hawaiian legislature. By the time he became king, the Hawaiian race was approaching extinction due to diseases introduced by foreigners.  The native population had dwindled to a fifth of its original size to about 70,000 people.

His wife was Queen Emma, who was adopted and raised by her British uncle and Hawaiian aunt. While she was an excellent horse rider and a fine vocalist, Queen Emma was, above all, a humanitarian and she joined her husband in a personal crusade to stem the decline of Native Hawaiians..

She and the king founded The Queen’s Hospital. To personally raise funds, they went door to door, walking the streets of Honolulu. Today, The Queen’s Medical Center, the successor to The Queen’s Hospital, is the largest private non-profit hospital in Hawaii.

Just under three acres, the land under the International Market Place is owned by The Queen Emma Land Company, a nonprofit organization established to support and advance health care through The Queen’s Medical Center and its affiliates.

The International Market Place was founded in 1956 by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, otherwise known as Donn Beach, and more notably as Don the Beachcomber.  He commissioned the Dagger Bar and Bazaar Buildings, and during the 1960s, other elements included the Hawaiian Halau, Japanese Tea House and Esplanade buildings. The exceptional banyan tree, which stands to this day, was also once home to Don’s tree house.

I remember visiting the area in these early days.  There was a radio station that broadcasted live near the banyan tree, and wide walkways provided access to tourist shops and eateries.  It was a treat for my mom, my little brother and me to wander through this area while waiting for my dad to finish his second job of bussing and waiting tables in a Waikiki restaurant.

In time, second floors were added and kiosks filled walkways so that the marketplace concept evolved into a cacophony of trinkets, colorful aloha wear, and Hawaiian souvenirs crafted in other parts of the world. The density of vendors, wares and activity overwhelms the senses so that one is oblivious to the surrounding high-rise hotels, busy streets and high-priced boutique retail chains.

I Thought I Might Find You Here

I thought I might find you here
coaxing your precious plants to feed our family
with the help of shape shifters that transport mist

from mountain peaks that seduce the foolish
from insistent waves that soothe the senses
from meandering streams that inspire the poet
from salty tears that contain life’s yearning.

But the cerulean garden was just a camouflage
for the ancient future of hope
that I might find you here.

Perhaps next time.

Arrival at Baggage Claim C

He shifted his weight in the third chair of the single pew at Baggage Claim C.  He was amazed at how these thin seats initially looked comfortable, but soon made him squirm to find a good position.  His elbows banged up against the metal arms on both sides of his seat.  Why do humans intentionally design discomfort? 

“Flight 0804 has arrived,” the automated voice announced to the air.  “Baggage can be claimed at Baggage Claim C.  For passengers flying to another destination, please check the consoles located throughout the terminal.”

He was expecting many important people arriving on this flight.  Dignitaries, financiers, artists and musicians were listed on the manifest.  But he was especially interested in a woman he had yet to meet.  Her postcards always managed to reach him, bits of her life scribbled on the backs of beaches, mountains and cities.  Her simplicity intrigued him. 

“I like this town.  I may stay here awhile.” 

“I didn’t realize how much this beach meant to me.”

“These mountains must reach heaven.”

The tired-looking travelers started filing in one by one, pushing the turnstyle that ended their journeys.  He recognized the young senator from Illinois who will lead a nation, and another man who will challenge Israel’s sovereignty.  He smiled fondly at a dark colored man who will sing about how wonderful life is, and nodded briefly at a man whose baseball career will be tainted by his credibility before lawmakers.

He stood when a small woman came through, carrying an overstuffed red purse and a slim computer bag.  She seemed so . . .  ordinary next to these other destinies.  Yet he recognized her by her expectant glances at different faces, and a small smile that breathed anticipation. 

She set her bags down near the baggage conveyer and ran her fingers through her hair.  She was business-like in her movements, yet bent down to talk to a little Asian boy who will star in a TV series about being lost. 

She saw him walking towards her, and her smile broadened.  “I knew you’d be here,” she murmured when he stood a few inches away. 

He gently placed his hands on her shoulders, and said quietly, “Welcome to Gaia, child.”  They hugged as old friends do when time is of no essence.

“Let me help you with your bags,” he offered, as they waited for the conveyer to deliver her life.

a birthday present to myself