By Virginia Beck
Kaua‘i is always a gift. Every day, it shares its magic in a different way. Some new surprise, amazing, remarkable, beautiful or pleasing. It is a funny place, our little island community.
For those who come from large urban areas, with streets laid out like a checkerboard, our maps are confusing. Apart from the main coastal highway, not quite encircling the island, our roads are a confusing maze of unpronounceable names. They weave through our overgrown foliage and hidden valleys. As they run along streams and rivers, you are constantly offered glimpses of trees, mountains, oceans or towering rock cliffs. The same slow traffic that frustrates you one minute, gives you time to see a rainbow over the ocean, a mango tree dripping in fruit, a new restaurant or a bikini boutique.
The comical appearance of the Walmart or Costco Chickens; the farmers’ markets with luscious fruit, tempting handcrafted treats; the beauty of our island people; the kindness to strangers which is central to the Aloha spirit — these are all gifts that Kaua‘i offers every day.
A lifetime on Kaua‘i, and still the gifts unfold. It’s different here. Kaua‘i is like Oz; the Green Kingdom where the rules of life are different. You may go into a bank and find candies and flowers at the teller’s counter. A crate full of avocados, that sits on a folding chair in front of a house. The sign says either “Free” or “Honor stand, avocados, $1.”
Trucks along the highway selling fresh fish, exotic fruits such as rambutan or lychee. In the parking lot of a shopping mall, there will be a car wash to raise funds for a hula halau, or a school.
Or possibly a large, delicious, smoky barbecue operation, offering “huli huli” chicken. Huli means turning over, and that is exactly what dozens of roasting chickens are doing, slowly rotating over grills made from 55 gallon drums cut in half. These tempting, juicy meals are way the community funds the special events, the band instruments, the trips to compete in state tournaments, or simply to fund someone’s cancer treatment.
The never ending gifts of our community are never more appreciated than during our recent move. After more than 40 years, we were leaving a family property, orchards, outbuildings, guest cottage and my husband’s art studio.
While we had been clearing out the belongings my parents left behind, giving things away, donating to various fundraising auctions, Kaua‘i Humane Society, Kaua‘i Hospice, etc. for years, it seemed we still found yet another huge closet full of treasures.
There were farm tools, extra wire fencing, and the neverending “extra” bits of construction materials. Plywood stashed to cover windows for hurricanes, and the odds and ends of hardware for repairs.
After 11 years of giving things away, Craigslist, and many trips to the Salvation Army and Habitat, we finally were moving closer to friends. We were more than a little tired of this, and the moving deadline was near.
Worn out from the lifting and carrying and hauling, I received an avalanche of texts and calls. “I have three hours tomorrow.” “ I am off work today, I can help pack.” “Can we help move stuff?” My ohana came out in force. Many willing hearts and hands showed up and made short work of overwhelming tasks. What a relief!
The most outstanding gift of Kaua‘i is not just the beautiful multicultural people, but the sense of family, ‘ohana. ‘Ohana is the family God gives you, not just the one you are born into. They are the ones who feed you and bring food to your house, when you are too tired to cook.
They empty your refrigerator and move the food to the new house. They carefully load your plants into a truck. They show up when you weren’t expecting it, and help unload the heaviness from your truck or your heart. They worry about you, when you don’t have time to worry about yourself.
This is Kaua‘i’s finest gift, the heart of an ‘ohana, the gift of Aloha. May you find it, give it, and share it. Mahalo nui to all and a Ke Akua!
- Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.