For the past three years now, I have spent the last Saturday in July at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for the Volcano Wilderness Run. It’s become a whole weekend affair immensely good for body and soul.
You could join us you know;
Mark your calendar now and plan for it next year: July 28, 2007. What a tremendous Ho‘ohana Community adventure that would be! You have a choice between 5 miles (Walk or Run), 10 miles, and marathon.
We drive up on Friday afternoon, and pamper ourselves for two nights at one of the Volcano Village bed and breakfast cottages, surrounded by rainforest, and feeling we are on blessed earth. It is a time when the yellow kahili ginger are in majestic bloom, and their scent pervades your senses with a kind and gentle delicacy. When it is clear, you are privy to what surely must be one of the rarest displays of starry lit skies on the planet, and when it rains the respectful quiet will reveal more pattering sounds than you’d thought nature’s watering could make.
Rain or no rain, our Sunday morning tradition has been another short three or four mile run to keep our tired legs somewhat limber, with the dawn-kissed Volcano streets seemingly made for our routine. We always wake early, but feeling incredibly refreshed no matter the run results the day before. Somehow, your subconscious is fully aware you are in a special place, and daybreak is not to be missed. By 7:00am we’ve already done the miles, showered and changed for a pre-breakfast stop at the Volcano Village Farmer’s Market.
I’m convinced that it is very hard to beat the rainforest-grown produce of Volcano, and to come away from the market with a week’s worth of fresh veggies for a fistful of dollar bills is a scrumptious experience in and of itself. Held at the Cooper Center of Volcano Village, this seems to be a small market, but there is an incredible variety to be found there. Besides the vendor tables on the main decks of the Center, one back room serves as a second hand bookstore, and in another they are serving fresh coffee with some of the most decadent pastries and oven-fresh breads, waiting to be slathered with creamy lilikoi butter and ohelo berry jelly. (Fitness diets and training for next year can wait another day”)
Besides food, there are arts and crafts; a must for Volcano, home to a very unassuming and humble artist colony, their talent speaking quite loudly on their behalf. When there are too many vendors, they spill out to the parking lot sidewalks, and this past Sunday was one where that was necessary. As occasional visitors to the market we’ve learned to resist our urge to jump right into the tantalizing fray, and watch first: The locals take a direct route to the tables where the goods are freshest and priced most reasonably. You watch, you follow, you preserve the silence for the conversation of neighbors and politely blend in, slowly filling your own produce basket. Small bills are appreciated, and samples are generously offered. The neighborhood grows larger and welcomes you in.
A favorite stop for me are at the plant tables, for this seems to be a place where almost anything can be coaxed to grow. I’ve yet to buy from these green-thumbed vendors though, for I am always afraid that the plants will not last long once I’ve brought them to my own garden. They look to belong at Volcano, and only Volcano. However, this time I would buy, only it wouldn’t be a plant.
On this particular Sunday, a woman was selling stunningly spectacular pots of orchids, and next to her, protectively keeping his end of their 8’ table cleared of any errant soil was her 6-year old son. In front of him was a short stack of plain white printer paper, and two pens. On one sheet, he had drawn pictures of two airplanes, and he’d written, Paper Airplanes, 25 ¢
How could I resist?
I reached into my pants’ pocket for a quarter, placed it on the table, and asked,
“Could I have a paper airplane please?”
His face erupted into one of the biggest smiles you have ever seen, but only for a fleeting moment, as he quickly reeled his composure back in, regarded me carefully, and asked,
“Would you like a Glider, or a Dart?”
“Which one do you enjoy making more?”
“That really doesn’t matter, you’re the customer, and it’s your money. You need to choose. I can make them both.”
“I’ll take the Glider please.”
Next to me, another prospective customer lays her quarter down on the table, and says,
“If you could, I’d like to have the Dart please.”
Our young salesman pulls out the first sheet of paper, and begins with his first fold. However he looks up again, genuinely surprised to see we’ve decided to wait, and says,
“This will take some time. Why don’t you finish your shopping and come back?”
He looks to his left and sees his mom watching him, and he quickly adds, “Please.”
When we returned about fifteen minutes later, both the Glider and Dart were waiting for us. As he saw us coming back to the table, he stood up from his chair, came around to the front, and presented his finished products.
“Here you are Ma’am, and here is yours. They’re both ready. Thank you for waiting. I drew pictures on the wings of both of them for you.”
“Will you show me the best way to fly it?”
“I could, but I think you should have the first time. If you throw your arm out straight, it will go faster, but not as far. But if you throw it up a little instead of straight, sometimes the air under the wings can take it pretty far.”
And then, with something in between a bow and a curtsey, he thanked us again, and hurried back behind his table to wait for another customer.
So in my tickler file for next July you will now find my race results, and my paper Glider.
———From the archives: