a small maui diary, illustrated

It rained hard around 4 a.m. The combined noise of the waves (high tide with the new moon) and the storm made it sound as if a jet was coming in for a landing right above us. The park comes out of its night hiding around 6 a.m., and the first rays of sun peek over the mountains around 7.

My brother and I played rummy last night as the sun was setting. I got killed. Our score sheet reminded me of how terrible I played. Made the coffee taste a little stale.

The local birds are creepy. Every morning, the gather in this same spot to gossip. This morning the group was small; usually, about 10 or more huddle in a perfect circle and bob heads and tweet. After a few minutes, they disperse. I think they're planning revolution. Thankfully, island birds are as lazy. Gotta think of breakfast first.

This is the bacon curtain. My parents found this device at Kmart, I think. You drape raw bacon slices over two plastic beams, and when the bacon is cooking in the microwave (of course), all the fat drips into the tray. The cooked bacon keeps its slightly squared shape. In the past week I think we've collectively devoured about four pounds of bacon (one pound was maple-flavored.) Lest you think we're completely deranged, strange pork products are quite the thing on the islands. A favorite snack is spam musubi. Slice of spam on top of rice ball, wrapped in seaweed. Really. So a bacon curtain in comparison is pedestrian.

Sand crabs rule the beach at night, but you can catch them cleaning house in the early morning, kicking sand out of small holes and generally being skittish. This guy was feisty enough to play stare down with me for about a minute before he hid again. The best fun is to watch jet-lagged East coast tourists (who are up at 3 a.m.) enjoying a romantic, pre-sunrise walk along the beach, only to step on one of these guys and squeal.

We drove across the island for lunch, driving through sugar cane fields on the way to Paia. This is Haleakala, a dormant volcano. The welcome sign on the road to Paia reads, "Don't feed the hippies."

The sun sets around 6 p.m. and doesn't linger; this brief pink glow disappears quickly and the winds pick up. Two days ago the waves took away all the sand on the beach. Today, they kindly put most of it back. Yet the water is so filled with sand particles it's not very pleasant to swim. I stick to the pool; I can hold on. I'm chicken that way.


lagged jets

Wide awake at 3 a.m. and jonesing for toast. Nasty when you can't turn the lights on (nor find the lights when you've long-lost your glasses on a Polish train and haven't been bothered to get a new pair) because you can't see to find the switch, and, even if you could find it, the light would bleed into the one bedroom, that of course, has no door. The joys of crashing on the floor of the 'rents' one-bedroom flat are many. There will be toast, just much, much later. Until then I huddle (with a sweater! but it is winter, even on islands with palm trees) reading by public-park light and digging toes in sand. There are crabs, side-scuttling, across the beach that's also very much in the dark at 3 a.m., but the stars are liquid and the water warm and the sunrise a good four, nay five hours away. At 4:30 a.m. another night wanderer, east-coaster, comes wandering out and is frozen by the sight of a moving beach, of crabs playing catch-me-if-you-can with increasingly angry waves. He can't be more than 7, and leans almost 45-degrees into the beach, straining to see it all but not move an inch further for fright. Nervous fingers button and unbutton a new Hawaiian shirt and then sweat is wiped from sweaty palms on knees. The light arrives; the boy disappears, to drag out a sleepy father and point, energetically, at the crabs who have long dug holes under us to snooze the warming day away. I've read almost 200 pages in the hours between stars and dawn, and am ready for dinner. Or toast. Whatever comes first.


sweet st. martin

I think the bar for saintdom has risen in the past few centuries. St. Martin, for instance, shared a coat with a cold guy. This does not make him an action saint by any means. It does make him a nice guy, however; the quantity of which around the year 300 C.E. must have been low. (Raiding Visigoth hordes not being known for their hospitality.)

So Martin gets chilly and becomes a saint. (Certainly better than being impailed by stakes, say, or torn apart by lions. I did not eat all the Halloween candy, for instance. Where's my damn saint's day?) But thank God for pagans, as the old traditions at least inject some practical elements into a holiday (like eating sweets.) No one's wandering around with half-torn coats around here; they're eating cookies, roasting geese and wandering around singing (when it's not raining and 4 degrees Celcius) with lanterns. Light of God and all that, but whatever. They look cool, and I'm told they can also double as a place to stash more candy. Practical.

The goose part of the story is probably my favorite. St. Martin, being a nice guy and all, wanted nothing to do with being appointed Bishop of Tours (as the fancy church robes were harder to tear) and so hid in a goose pen. Martin, it must be said, was not the brightest ascetic. The geese gave up the monk with their squacking, and Martin was bishoped, and the geese became dinner. Silly gooses.