Tuesday, September 22, 2009


When I turned fifty, my son and I traveled to Hawaii to spend Christmas and New Year's with my daughter and her family. My sister Patti and her son came to Spirit Creek the night before we left so we could go into Lodge together. A woman only turns fifty once in her life and Patti came to help me celebrate that milestone. The boys took care of the fire for us.

We flew from KCI to snow covered, icy Minneapolis for the connecting flight to Hawaii. Nine long hours on a double-decker jet filled to capacity with holiday travelers headed for paradise. In my entire life I had never wanted to go to Hawaii. I assumed it was nothing but a huge expensive tourist pit, and only people with a ton of money could enjoy it. I was wrong. When I at last escaped that airplane into the warm and perfumed air of Hawaii, I fell in love with the Islands forever.

On Christmas day, we opened presents in the morning and went to the beach in the afternoon. My daughter's apartment was built with no furnace, no air conditioning because they are never needed. That seemed impossible to a lifelong Kansan. Imagine living in a place where the weather is not adversarial.

To make travel easier, we did our Christmas shopping in Honolulu. I had considered bringing my water paints, but did not want to risk losing them to a screening problem at the airport. My son, bless his heart, gave me a little set of water paints and paper for Christmas. I did get the chance to paint in Hawaii, thanks to his thoughtfulness.

There are many memories from those ten days, but what has been on my mind lately was snorkeling in Haunama Bay with my son and daughter. They were fearless and beautiful as they swam in the clear water. They did not seem like people I knew but two members of an exotic race of mer people. I tried to keep up with them, because you know, I was going to protect them from harm in the ocean. There was no way I could match their strength, and certainly no reason to worry about them. Finally, I stopped worrying and simply observed them swimming in the bay. Their natural grace underwater was simply stunning.

I was okay snorkeling but the sea bed had a nasty habit of rising up close to the surface, where I could see it was full of creatures I had no prior dealings with back in Kansas. There were signs everywhere to not touch or stand on the living coral. I truly struggled to stay away from those shallow towers of coral, but sometimes I had to put my hand on something to push away from some creature with large eyes and strange appendages. Nothing looked remotely like a snake, so I was never technically in the terror mode.

I could write pages remembering that trip to Hawaii. The day we left, the surf on the North Shore was officially 45 feet. Nothing is as magnificent on this earth as the ocean rolling into those towering, booming walls, rising up in shades of teal and turquoise, rainbows trailing into the primal thundering dispersal on the sand and the immediate drawing up for yet another enormous assault. My daughter and I went to watch the surf and eat shave ice one more time, which were my two favorite things to do in Hawaii. I believe I could live on that North Shore and never be homesick for Kansas at all.

It seems as if every moment of time I spent in Hawaii is etched into my memory, golden and easy and graced with the beauty of my children and the perfume of paradise.

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