A Rich Day

Saturday morning we went to the beach-- a sort of secluded one in a patch of burnt keawe forest and down a broken old trail. It's shallow with a white sandy bottom and plenty of thorny trees to drape your towels on. My little half-fish one-year old charged out into the waves, signing "fishie" and "water" and "wet" and screaming with happiness. She didn't even mind the unusally rough waves-- strong enough to knock me over a couple of times while she stayed safely perched on her daddy. We swam and splashed around-- two giant honu floated right past us, sticking their noses out of the water to take audible sucks of air. When their heads emerge you can see the lenalena yellow ring around their eyes and the green and amber scales on their wise faces. The big exciting waves knocked us all around a bit, we played on the beach (I enjoy writing things like "permanence" and "eternity" in the sand, and watching them get washed away, ha ha ha.) Baby buried herself up to her piko (belly button) in a puddle, splashing and screaming and singing until the waves starting rising.

Then after we were all tired out from the hot sun and the salt water and the waves, we went to a MAJOR baby luau. This was the kind of one year baby luau people imagine—hundreds of guests, a giant pavilion on the beach reserved for the day, and most of all, the FOOD. They had all the usual luau fare (potato salad, tuna poke--raw fish salad, poi, rice, kalua pig, chicken long rice, luau), but REALLY DELICIOUS. The best poke I’ve ever, ever had. Usually I start to feel a little queasy if I eat too much raw fish. Not this stuff—I could live off of it. Salty and fresh and sea-weedy with flecks of kukui nut oil and red alae sea-salt… Auntie Ann, who lives around the corner from us (baby Kameya's great-aunt) proudly told me that her two fat backyard pigs had gone into the imu to make the Kalua pig. I told her you could taste the love! And most amazingly of all, they had trays of Opihi—a kind of sea creature that lives on the black volcani rocks in the roughest waves—like a daredevil night-migrating clam. I’ve never had it before because it’s really hard to find, gather and prepare, I think it's illegal to sell and in any case it’s horribly expensive to buy. WOW, it was amazing. Like tight juicy little packets of muscley sea-protein.

We sat with the honored baby Kameya's great grandmother, Auntie Bertha, and were introduced to some of the sons, cousins, distant relatives and well-wishers all around us. My sleepy sandy-necked baby and overstimulated and under-napped baby Kameya exchanged long weary one-year-old looks.

I loved the bustle of all of the people coming and going-- the dad's family from Waimea, the mom's family from Hilo, with the rainbow of Hawaiian diversity on full display: relatives included obvious haole, Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Japanese. A live band (an ukulele, a guitar, and a wash-bin bass) played nationalistic Iz Kamakawiwoole covers alternating with old Tin Pan Alley hapa-haole songs, and the baby's grandmother handed around glass baby-food jars full of party favors. Other friends came and we hugged and kissed them all, and got to witness how they are all interconnected with both sides of the family by whom they hug and kiss. After second helpings of fresh poi, beloved kalua pig, and lilikoi cake, we made our way home to nap.

In the evening we set out again-- down to the Kahilu theatre for the annual Kanu O Ka Aina Hula drama-- the final "ho'ike"-- graduation performance and recital-- for the Hawaiian charter school. We were an hour early but the line was out the door and around the building.

We found a spot near the front, next to Aunti Val who is one of the media coordinator's for Kanu. She snapped pictures all through and lent baby camera caps and miscellany to distract her.

A hundred kids or so from kindergarten to 12th grade put on a two hour show of ancient hula and modern hula in the traditional style-- telling the stories and legends and natural history of this place. The kindergarteners all became sea creatures and described the Kole, the opihi, the hee, the mano, the manini. The high schoolers performed a chant and dance about the whales coming-- they were all shrouded in minutely woven stiff lauhala cloth. Another group of high schoolers created their own knee drums-- symbols of connection to heaven and earth and of sacrifice-- which they played and whipped around and tied to their knees all in perfect unison. I was amazed how professional and serious this group of kids could be! Even the tiny kindergarteners knew all the Hawaiian words to long, repetitive chants, and didn't wave to mommy or fidget for the entire time. The goofy slouching teenagers become tall proud performers—even the thick-middled wormy boys walked un-self-consciously onto the stage to dance and chant in their malo--loin cloths. The dances moved me—seeing how hard the kids had worked to do it, how much they cared about making it beautiful—the kids even made their own costumes—sewing and even dyeing and carving stamps and hand-printing the material. It was lovely.


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