Nature’s watery treasure chest

After a tsunami, you have to believe that nature knows best. Her message is not always kind, and pain can be severe, especially when human life is lost, and our sense of place seems irreparably changed.

Healing within conversation

This posting is an on-going conversation a bit off the beaten path of the normal here, however it is soul-feeding testament to the ‘talking story’ we do!

Nature’s watery treasure chest
At the edge of an anchialine pond at KÅ«ki‘o

Kekaha replenishment fashioned beautiful

A blog post by Joanna Paterson reminded me about Wordles, and I popped these words into the “Create” box there to see what would come up.

This came from my earliest days working at the Hualalai Resort, and were shared with us there in an orientation session sometime in 1996. It was plainly printed, text only, on a sheet of copy paper that I have always kept folded within the book I have called In the Lee of Hualalai, written by Jocelyn Fujii, just because it has always belonged there with the rest of my Hualalai history (the book has turned into a kind of filing cabinet for me). So I’m sorry to say that I cannot give original credit where credit is due for this passage, though I have referred to these words very often: I find the simplicity of it so beautiful and compelling, both in word choice, and in the lifestyle described.

“Ka‘Å«pÅ«lehu: The ancients revered this land, this ahupua‘a called Ka‘Å«pÅ«lehu on the slopes of the mountain they named Hualalai, in the region of Kekaha. The kaha lands, Kekaha was called: waterless lands brimming with other riches, coveted by the chiefs of old. Reading the signs of the ‘Eka wind that called forth the canoes for good fishing, and the powerful Mumuku wind that warned them to stay home, the ancients knew when to fish for aku and ‘ōpelu along the bountiful shoreline. From coastal ponds fattened by the upland rains, they harvested tiny red shrimp called ‘ōpae‘ula. With the ‘ōpae‘ula they fashioned balls of chum that attracted the ‘ōpelu for harvests to sustain their people. In a continuous exchange up, down, and across the ahupua‘a the villagers of Ka‘Å«pÅ«lehu exchanged fish and salt from the shoreline for the taro, breadfruit, and sweet potato grown by the upland dwellers. In turn they grew hala and loulu and wove their fronds into mats, hats, and containers that they carried up the mountain on trails they had built, stone by stone. Thus was the ahupua‘a, a land division sweeping from mountain to sea, a major cultural, environmental, and economic unit of the traditional Hawaiians.”

“Because the conservation of natural resources was foremost in the Hawaiian mind, fishing grounds were never depleted. The catch was shared among villagers, and fishing was prohibited during spawning seasons to ensure ongoing abundance and replenishment. We, as those who now occupy this land, invite you to share in the mutual responsibility of sustaining and maintaining beautiful Ka‘Å«pÅ«lehu. Our natural resources are precious and fragile, and we can Mālama kahakai together, kākou.”

Here is the wordle I got.

If you read down the center of it, you get:
Rains carried ongoing harvests
Fragile environmental resources
Sustaining major fishing
Good land, shoreline riches
Coveted sea, called natural

and also, summing up,
Kekaha replenishment fashioned beautiful

Gentle coexistence
Pond ecosystems coax forth gentle coexistence

I hope I live to be an old woman, able to see more change, yet tell old stories too

I was able to speak with my friend David, steward of Waiakauhi Pond, and he shares that the eldest of the kūpuna (Hawaiian elders) he has inquired of, remember that Waiakauhi was indeed open to the sea before the tsunami of 1946, and only became the anchialine pond we knew of in recent years since then.

It is a more comforting thought, that the ocean has reclaimed her, as a mother reclaims a wayward child, never having stopped loving him, and always knowing that her kuleana na mālama loa, her enduring responsibility with teaching him from a place of love and care, will never stop, no matter how old he gets.

For my part, I now think of a favorite quote from George Bernard Shaw. No matter the emotions I go through, I’ll reach deep into them as they happen. I’m with Shaw, who said, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.”

So much beauty remains

The yellows of Kauna‘oa and a Pohuehue leaf
The yellows of kauna‘oa and a pohuehue leaf

The kauna‘oa is the stringy orange atop the green pohuehue morning glory. A parasitic twining vine with thin, leafless stems Kauna‘oa kahakai translates to ‘the beach orphan vine.’
When the strands are twisted, then twined over each other, they form Kauna‘oa, the official lei of the island of Lana‘i.

Pohuehue beach runners
The pohuehue beach runners; our Hawaiian morning glory

Kohekohe as Mea Ho‘okipa
Kohekohe as Mea Ho‘okipa, sedge as host to a snail


  1. says

    Hi Rosa, I’ve been following your posts wondering what to say. I’m sorry for the damage Hawaii experienced, but as you say here, it is part of a bigger cycle. Unfortunately one that extends past our own short visits.

    • Rosa Say says

      Aloha Fred, what you have said is perfect, for they’re your words, and to me, they speak ke lokomaika‘i, with “the generosity of good heart,” and of your being here for me. Thank you.

  2. says

    Rosa, this is so beautiful, and moving, thank you for sharing it and teaching us through your own learning. I am honoured to have my name mentioned within your words. The post you mention was called pools of poetry, and what you have shared here is, to me, a pool of poetry, just as full of treasure as those pools of the sea.

    • Rosa Say says

      Joanna, I have a mental block with poetry I know, one I am very sure stems from all the rules I’d learned back in school, from teachers who did not believe it was as fluid and rule-free as I now learn it to be from you and others. As you know, I love words, phrases and fragments, and wordsmithing and perhaps the day will come that I say I write poems too, but for now they remain my ‘collections.’ And I do love the wayward meanderings you can follow in these Wordles! Quite a palena ‘ole thought (one of unlimited capacity), that they are “pools of poetry” — yet another “watery treasure chest.”