Maui in the Morning

The light steadily strengthens until it bursts into a brilliant sun ball over the top of Halelakala. It shimmers down upon mortals like me, out early enough to witness its magic. It is a benediction, without denomination, from the mountaintop. Giver of heat and light, the sun is what I crave. Stiff from a six-hour international flight and uncounted hours waiting in car, ferry, airports and rental kiosk, my body opens itself to the energy offered.

My morning walk continues past hedges of rioting bougainvillea and hibiscus; only constant trimming tames their growth. “Another perfect day in paradise,” is a familiar comment.

Perfection yes, but much more complicated than that. We assume that perfection has no flaws. I know Maui has grievous flaws. There are poor and sick people on Maui; groceries are expensive; a drug culture thrives. Just as at home, politicians argue over roads and trees and taxes. Big dollars have big power. Like indigenous peoples around the world, Hawaiian natives are struggling for their birth rights. All that and more are evident here. Still, my Maui is a perfect paradise.

“What makes it so?” you ask.

For 45 years I’ve tried to find the answer. I only know that each time I step from the plane, Maui’s magic is upon me. My spirit is uplifted. My perception is enhanced. My attitude is adjusted. It’s impossible not to relax.

The secret is in the air, a light fresh balm to a body’s clogged passages, filled with delicious scents found nowhere else on earth. Everything that grows on Maui blooms at least once during the year. It means that each breath yields scents from a tree, shrub or flowering plant, all mingle on the gentle breeze with Perfume da Pacific Ocean. The ocean is never very far away.

A turn at this intersection and I’m on grass beside sand dunes. Here the floral scents are overlaid by salt spray, and, after major storms, odours of rotting seaweed, but always there is lightness in the air. On surrounding hills, where warmth and tropical rainfall decays all fallen leaves and blossoms, one huge composting facility is created, one more aroma added to the mix.

The annual rainfall of Kiehi, where I walk, is lowest of the island—a desert micro-climate on a green Pacific oasis. To breathe this mix is such relief after alternately breathing cold outside air and heated, dry indoor air in Canada. Temperature and humidity opens bronchial passages and encourages deep breathing. Who wouldn’t prefer to take their morning exercise under these conditions?

I am reminded once more of why I keep returning. Exposure to Maui encourages a kind of openness, a willingness to consider new ideas, opinions and opportunities. Nothing seems hopeless or impossible. Best of all, at the deepest level, my psyche shifts. A perfect Maui morning directs me along the path of life.

Making Maui Memories

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As many people do while making preparations for the Christmas season I was thinking yesterday about the fun I had with my daughter’s family two years ago on Maui. I had enjoyed that vacation with my grandchildren during the week before Christmas and arrived home just in time to celebrate Christmas Eve with the rest of my family and create the Christmas turkey feast the next day.

Waterproofing a child -- Maui 2012

Because we always lived beside the ocean it was a goal of my husband and me to have our children ‘waterproofed’ and it pleases me to see that these parents have set a similar goal. While away with them I had witnessed once more the good that regular swimming lessons can do, even if you live in Alberta. I was delighted to find the grandchildren are turning out to be ‘water-babies’ too.

Having spent so many Christmas seasons in ‘the Islands,’ Maui itself holds a special place in my children’s memories of Christmas; my grandchildren are now having a similar opportunity to experience its delights.

When our children were little my husband held a sales position within the logging industry, which meant he travelled a great deal, often spending several nights a week away from home. Anyone who knows that business, will acknowledge the month of December is generally a slower time, with many logging camps shut down for unfavourable weather conditions or simply their scheduled crew holidays.

We were never a family that went away during the school’s summer holiday time. Instead we chose the Christmas school break for our vacation. When the kids were 4, 6 and 8 we tried our first warm vacation – Maui was the choice. It turned out to be a fabulous change from winter at home, an opportunity to extend the summer swimming lessons and best of all, the telephone didn’t ring.

We treated those weeks as true family time and came home and back to school with a better understanding of each other. Because of the assignments the children completed for their teachers we learned together a great deal about the history, traditions and industries of the Hawaiian people. It was a good experience for all of us and for 12 years it was an accepted family tradition.

Some will ask, “How could you be away from home during that celebration time?” We could for the benefits I’ve mentioned, we could because we had a very small nuclear family of only our parents. Having Christmas on Maui differed from ours at home only by the day’s temperature and its activities.

Here was our typical Christmas Day: Christmas morning open stocking, eat breakfast and clean up the dishes, then open the few packages from grandparents we had brought along. Next came my dressing a turkey and packing a lunch; just before we left for the beach I put the turkey into the oven.

When we arrived back at the cabin at sunset with sun touched, sandy, salt-crusted skin everyone had a shower, maybe even a dip in the pool. Then it was into pajamas for the children, followed by a celebratory dinner. It was the same meal as we served at home but with less fuss and scrambling to meet an unspoken deadline for its service. The next day for our lunch sandwiches we had turkey meat and cranberry sauce. And so our vacation continued, back to a different beach each day.

Maui Beach