Monday, December 29, 2008

The Merry Year

"The merry year is born
Like the bright berry from the naked thorn."
- Hartley Coleridge

Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.
- Walter Scott

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential."
- Ellen Goodman

“The Fish Dance

It’s season again for the fish dance. Next time you are walking the Ala Moana Blvd. Bridge over the Ala Wai Canal, pause on the mauka (mountain) side to check out the intricate maneuvers underway by dozens and dozens of fish. The first time I noticed, I thought it was a flotilla of leaves on the water. Then I saw the do-si-do, the alaman left, the schools splitting into separating spirals. Fish are packed so close together that some in the middle are pushed partly up and out of the water. All together now! What are they doing? I don’t know. But back when I was taken to see Nureyev dance at Lincoln Center I didn’t need a knowledge of ballet to be amazed by the way he hung in the air at the arc of an unbelievably high leap. Well these tilapia are just as absorbed and expert in their corps de ballet. Spawning? Eating? Hula competition judged by mantis shrimp? I just don’t know. Do you? There are great new parking improvements at Makapu for those hiking around the slope to the lighthouse. Stop at Costco’s snack bar in Hawaii Kai for hot dogs, pizza, chicken salad, drinks on your way, and then you can park safely away from traffic and walk a paved path around the slope to the amazing view. Tip: full moon night hikes here are memorable and special! If you are inside Costco, or Star Market, or any food store with a fish department, try buying what you see the locals buy; even squid or seaweed won’t kill you. And if you see opihi you’re in for a special treat! It’s expensive for a reason. Like the song says: “Opihi man in the sun, opihi man grab your bag and RUN! Opihi man another swell is coming your way.” People do drown harvesting these delicious morsels from the tidal zones of sea cliffs; in fact I’ve heard this innocent little Hawaiian mussel called “fish of death.” Worth a taste? Continuing up the Saturday road through Waimanalo, with its miles and miles of white sand and turquoise shallows just yards from your car, I saw that the beach park was humming with activity. When you pull into a beach park among all the local folks who are spending their day off with their families do so humbly and with a good spirit. Easy does it. Remember: weekending families are not cultural exhibits or chamber of commerce employees. Regular folks work very hard simply to make it here, and they enjoy their weekend relaxation just as you do. Please understand that the closest beach is like the neighborhood’s living room, even though it’s “public.” Be laid back and you’ll probably meet some new people, or even be welcomed in inimitable Aloha style. Offer to share your stuff first, like a juice to a child, or a slice of pizza to the guy sitting right next to you. I could recount many stories of visitors being invited to the baby luau, the wedding up the block at somebody’s house, given deeply personal tours, or even invited to stay over. Nice people do find each other, bad attitudes: just keep driving! Back in Waikiki, joining the throngs walking, running, gawking, biking, unloading surfboards on Diamond Head Road, I got to thinking that to visitors, DH is a famous visual emblem. But it’s so much more than that to us; for example, we use it to describe seasonal conditions: “Look! Diamond Head is so green!” (Lots of rain) or brown (lots of no rain). To locals it’s not just visual though, ole DH is like a beloved uncle that we playfully climb all over. We hike the trails and enjoy the view FROM Diamond Head (his shoulders). We sit on his lap: DH park one and park two, green oceanfront enclaves made peaceful and private by their lack of parking, brides are photographed here as limos hover. At the foot of the cliffs, below Diamond Head Road, are intimate little beaches where naturists and meditators can be left in peace. So you see, we locals don’t just SEE DH; we play with it, smell the flowers, hear the surf and enjoy the birds. And at the right time of year it’s perfect for spotting whales spouting and splashing out to sea. Even the tightly scheduled tour van groups that pull into the lookout seem to hush at the majesty of the vista, as their harried drivers relax for a smoke. It's the perfect spot to “watch the submarine races,” or simply to loose the grip of hours and minutes. . . Misty Technicolor clouds blowing over the mountains, blue heron, red sails in the sunset. . . Hot shower, cold beer, and warm welcome; how can every pau hana (after work) be uniquely wonderful? Guess they’re just like snowflakes. . . Remember snowflakes? In Hawaii it’s OK to smile at others. Everyone is beautiful here- but it’s from the inside. In our tropical climate makeup runs, but true aloha just glows through your expression, your skin, and your face, like a light from within. . . SUPER FERRY! The Alakai, the largest all aluminum ship built in the USA, is here. We can now take our own vehicles to Maui. We all need to get out on the water sometimes. . . just so we can take our turn. . . doing the fish dance. . . Aloha! Cloudia